Curiosities of Literature, by Isaac Disraeli

Licensers of the Press.

In the history of literature, and perhaps in that of the human mind, the institution of the LICENSERS OF THE PRESS, and CENSORS OF BOOKS, was a bold invention, designed to counteract that of the Press itself; and even to convert this newly-discovered instrument of human freedom into one which might serve to perpetuate that system of passive obedience which had so long enabled modern Rome to dictate her laws to the universe. It was thought possible in the subtlety of Italian astuzia and Spanish monachism, to place a sentinel on the very thoughts as well as on the persons of authors; and in extreme cases, that books might be condemned to the flames as well as heretics.

Of this institution, the beginnings are obscure, for it originated in caution and fear; but as the work betrays the workman, and the national physiognomy the native, it is evident that so inquisitorial an act could only have originated in the Inquisition itself. Feeble or partial attempts might previously have existed, for we learn that the monks had a part of their libraries called the inferno, which was not the part which they least visited, for it contained, or hid, all the prohibited books which they could smuggle into it. But this inquisitorial power assumed its most formidable shape in the council of Trent, when some gloomy spirits from Rome and Madrid foresaw the revolution of this new age of books. The triple-crowned pontiff had in vain rolled the thunders of the Vatican, to strike out of the hands of all men the volumes of Wickliffe, of Huss, and of Luther, and even menaced their eager readers with death. At this council Pius IV. was presented with a catalogue of books of which they denounced that the perusal ought to be forbidden; his bull not only confirmed this list of the condemned, but added rules how books should be judged. Subsequent popes enlarged these catalogues, and added to the rules, as the monstrous novelties started up. Inquisitors of books were appointed; at Rome they consisted of certain cardinals and “the master of the holy palace;” and literary inquisitors were elected at Madrid, at Lisbon, at Naples, and for the Low Countries; they were watching the ubiquity of the human mind. These catalogues of prohibited books were called Indexes; and at Rome a body of these literary despots are still called “the Congregation of the Index.” The simple Index is a list of condemned books which are never to be opened; but the Expurgatory Index indicates those only prohibited till they have undergone a purification. No book was allowed to be on any subject, or in any language, which contained a single position, an ambiguous sentence, even a word, which, in the most distant sense, could be construed opposite to the doctrines of the supreme authority of this council of Trent; where it seems to have been enacted, that all men, literate and illiterate, prince and peasant, the Italian, the Spaniard and the Netherlander, should take the mint-stamp of their thoughts from the council of Trent, and millions of souls be struck off at one blow, out of the same used mould.

The sages who compiled these Indexes, indeed, long had reason to imagine that passive obedience was attached to the human character: and therefore they considered, that the publications of their adversaries required no other notice than a convenient insertion in their indexes. But the heretics diligently reprinted them with ample prefaces and useful annotations; Dr. James, of Oxford, republished an Index with due animadversions. The parties made an opposite use of them: while the catholic crossed himself at every title, the heretic would purchase no book which had not been indexed. One of their portions exposed a list of those authors whose heads were condemned as well as their books: it was a catalogue of men of genius.

The results of these indexes were somewhat curious. As they were formed in different countries, the opinions were often diametrically opposite to each other. The learned Arias Montanus, who was a chief inquisitor in the Netherlands, and concerned in the Antwerp Index, lived to see his own works placed in the Roman Index; while the inquisitor of Naples was so displeased with the Spanish Index, that he persisted to assert that it had never been printed at Madrid! Men who began by insisting that all the world should not differ from their opinions, ended by not agreeing with themselves. A civil war raged among the Index-makers; and if one criminated, the other retaliated. If one discovered ten places necessary to be expurgated, another found thirty, and a third inclined to place the whole work in the condemned list. The inquisitors at length became so doubtful of their own opinions, that they sometimes expressed in their license for printing, that “they tolerated the reading, after the book had been corrected by themselves, till such time as the work should be considered worthy of some farther correction.” The expurgatory Indexes excited louder complaints than those which simply condemned books; because the purgers and castrators, as they were termed, or as Milton calls them, “the executioners of books,” by omitting, or interpolating passages, made an author say, or unsay, what the inquisitors chose; and their editions, after the death of the authors, were compared to the erasures or forgeries in records: for the books which an author leaves behind him, with his last corrections, are like his last will and testament, and the public are the legitimate heirs of an author’s opinions.

The whole process of these expurgatory Indexes, that “rakes through the entrails of many an old good author, with a violation worse than any could be offered to his tomb,” as Milton says, must inevitably draw off the life-blood, and leave an author a mere spectre! A book in Spain and Portugal passes through six or seven courts before it can be published, and is supposed to recommend itself by the information, that it is published with all the necessary privileges. They would sometimes keep works from publication till they had “properly qualified them, interemse calficam,“ which in one case is said to have occupied them during forty years. Authors of genius have taken fright at the gripe of “the master of the holy palace,” or the lacerating scratches of the “corrector-general por su magestad.” At Madrid and Lisbon, and even at Rome, this licensing of books has confined most of their authors to the body of the good fathers themselves.

The Commentaries on the Lusiad, by Faria de Souza, had occupied his zealous labours for twenty-five years, and were favourably received by the learned. But the commentator was brought before this tribunal of criticism and religion, as suspected of heretical opinions; when the accuser did not succeed before the inquisitors of Madrid, he carried the charge to that of Lisbon: an injunction was immediately issued to forbid the sale of the Commentaries, and it cost the commentator an elaborate defence, to demonstrate the catholicism of the poet and himself. The Commentaries finally were released from perpetual imprisonment.

This system has prospered to admiration, in keeping public opinion down to a certain meanness of spirit, and happily preserved stationary the childish stupidity through the nation, on which so much depended.

Nani’s History of Venice is allowed to be printed, because it contained nothing against princes. Princes then were either immaculate or historians false. The History of Guicciardini is still scarred with the merciless wound of the papistic censor; and a curious account of the origin and increase of papal power was long wanting in the third and fourth book of his history. Velly’s History of France would have been an admirable work had it not been printed at Paris!

When the insertions in the Index were found of no other use than to bring the peccant volumes under the eyes of the curious, they employed the secular arm in burning them in public places. The history of these literary conflagrations has often been traced by writers of opposite parties; for the truth is, that both used them: zealots seem all formed of one material, whatever be their party. They had yet to learn, that burning was not confuting, and that these public fires were an advertisement by proclamation. The publisher of Erasmus’s Colloquies intrigued to procure the burning of his book, which raised the sale to twenty-four thousand!

A curious literary anecdote has reached us of the times of Henry VIII. Tonstall, Bishop of London, accused at that day for his moderation in preferring the burning of books to that of authors, which was then getting into practice, to testify his abhorrence of Tindal’s principles, who had printed a translation of the New Testament, a sealed book for the multitude, thought of purchasing all the copies of Tindal’s translation, and annihilating them in the common flame. This occurred to him when passing through Antwerp in 1529, then a place of refuge for the Tindalists. He employed an English merchant there for this business, who happened to be a secret follower of Tindal, and acquainted him with the bishop’s intention. Tindal was extremely glad to hear of the project, for he was desirous of printing a more correct edition of his version; the first impression still hung on his hands, and he was too poor to make a new one; he gladly furnished the English merchant with all his unsold copies, which the bishop as eagerly bought, and had them all publicly burnt in Cheapside. The people not only declared this was a “burning of the word of God,” but it inflamed the desire of reading that volume; and the second edition was sought after at any price. When one of the Tindalists, who was sent here to sell them, was promised by the lord chancellor, in a private examination, that he should not suffer if he would reveal who encouraged and supported his party at Antwerp, the Tindalist immediately accepted the offer, and assured the lord chancellor that the greatest encouragement they had was from Tonstall, the Bishop of London, who had bought up half the impression, and enabled them to produce a second!

In the reign of Henry VIII. we seem to have burnt books on both sides; it was an age of unsettled opinions; in Edward’s, the Catholic works were burnt; and Mary had her pyramids of Protestant volumes; in Elizabeth’s, political pamphlets fed the flames; and libels in the reign of James I. and his sons.

Such was this black dwarf of literature, generated by Italian craft and Spanish monkery, which, however, was fondly adopted as it crept in among all the nations of Europe. France cannot exactly fix on the era of her Censeurs de Livres; and we ourselves, who gave it its death-blow, found the custom prevail without any authority from our statutes. The practice of licensing books was unquestionably derived from the Inquisition, and was applied here first to books of religion. Britain long groaned under the leaden stamp of an Imprimatur. Oxford and Cambridge still grasp at this shadow of departed literary despotism; they have their licensers and their Imprimaturs. Long, even in our land, men of genius were either suffering the vigorous limbs of their productions to be shamefully mutilated in public, or voluntarily committed a literary suicide in their own manuscripts. Camden declared that he was not suffered to print all his Elizabeth, and sent those passages over to De Thou, the French historian, who printed his history faithfully two years after Camden’s first edition, 1615. The same happened to Lord Herbert’s History of Henry VIII. which has never been given according to the original, which is still in existence. In the poems of Lord Brooke, we find a lacuna of the first twenty pages; it was a poem on Religion, cancelled by the order of Archbishop Laud. The great Sir Matthew Hale ordered that none of his works should be printed after his death; as he apprehended that, in the licensing of them, some things might be struck out or altered, which he had observed, not without some indignation, had been done to those of a learned friend; and he preferred bequeathing his uncorrupted MSS. to the Society of Lincoln’s Inn, as their only guardians, hoping that they were a treasure worth keeping. Contemporary authors have frequent allusions to such books, imperfect and mutilated at the caprice or the violence of a licenser.

The laws of England have never violated the freedom and the dignity of its press. “There is no law to prevent the printing of any book in England, only a decree in the Star-chamber,” said the learned Selden.1 Proclamations were occasionally issued against authors and books; and foreign works were, at times, prohibited. The freedom of the press was rather circumvented, than openly attacked, in the reign of Elizabeth, who dreaded the Roman Catholics, who were at once disputing her right to the throne, and the religion of the state. Foreign publications, or “books from any parts beyond the seas,” were therefore prohibited.2 The press, however, was not free under the reign of a sovereign, whose high-toned feelings, and the exigencies of the times, rendered as despotic in deeds, as the pacific James was in words. Although the press had then no restrictions, an author was always at the mercy of the government. Elizabeth too had a keen scent after what she called treason, which she allowed to take in a large compass. She condemned one author (with his publisher) to have the hand cut off which wrote his book; and she hanged another.3 It was Sir Francis Bacon, or his father, who once pleasantly turned aside the keen edge of her regal vindictiveness; for when Elizabeth was inquiring whether an author, whose book she had given him to examine, was not guilty of treason, he replied, “Not of treason, madam, but of robbery, if you please; for he has taken all that is worth noticing in him from Tacitus and Sallust.” With the fear of Elizabeth before his eyes, Holinshed castrated the volumes of his History. When Giles Fletcher, after his Russian embassy, congratulated himself with having escaped with his head, and on his return wrote a book called “The Russian Commonwealth,” describing its tyranny, Elizabeth forbad the publishing of the work. Our Russian merchants were frightened, for they petitioned the queen to suppress the work; the original petition, with the offensive passages, exists among the Lansdowne manuscripts. It is curious to contrast this fact with another better known, under the reign of William the Third; then the press had obtained its perfect freedom, and even the shadow of the sovereign could not pass between an author and his work. When the Danish ambassador complained to the king of the freedom which Lord Molesworth had exercised on his master’s government, in his Account of Denmark, and hinted that, if a Dane had done the same with a King of England, he would, on complaint, have taken the author’s head off —“That I cannot do,” replied the sovereign of a free people; “but if you please, I will tell him what you say, and he shall put it into the next edition of his book.” What an immense interval between the feelings of Elizabeth and William, with hardly a century betwixt them!

James the First proclaimed Buchanan’s history, and a political tract of his, at “the Mercat Cross;” and every one was to bring his copy “to be perusit and purgit of the offensive and extraordinare materis,” under a heavy penalty. Knox, whom Milton calls “the Reformer of a Kingdom,” was also curtailed; and “the sense of that great man shall, to all posterity, be lost for the fearfulness or the presumptuous rashness of a perfunctory licenser.”

The regular establishment of licensers of the press appeared under Charles the First. It must be placed among the projects of Laud, and the king, I suspect, inclined to it; for by a passage in a manuscript letter of the times, I find, that when Charles printed his speech on the dissolution of the parliament, which excited such general discontent, some one printed Queen Elizabeth’s last speech as a companion-piece. This was presented to the king by his own printer, John Bill, not from a political motive, but merely by way of complaint that another had printed, without leave or license, that which, as the king’s printer, he asserted was his own copyright. Charles does not seem to have been pleased with the gift, and observed, “You printers print anything.” Three gentlemen of the bed-chamber, continues the writer, standing by, commended Mr. Bill very much, and prayed him to come oftener with such rarities to the king, because they might do some good.4

One of the consequences of this persecution of the press was, the raising up of a new class of publishers, under the government of Charles I., those who became noted for what was then called “unlawful and unlicensed books.” Sparkes, the publisher of Prynne’s “Histriomastix,” was of this class. I have elsewhere entered more particularly into this subject.5 The Presbyterian party in parliament, who thus found the press closed on them, vehemently cried out for its freedom: and it was imagined, that when they had ascended into power, the odious office of a licenser of the press would have been abolished; but these pretended friends of freedom, on the contrary, discovered themselves as tenderly alive to the office as the old government, and maintained it with the extremest vigour. Such is the political history of mankind.

The literary fate of Milton was remarkable: his genius was castrated alike by the monarchical and the republican government. The royal licenser expunged several passages from Milton’s history, in which Milton had painted the superstition, the pride, and the cunning of the Saxon monks, which the sagacious licenser applied to Charles II. and the bishops; but Milton had before suffered as merciless a mutilation from his old friends the republicans; who suppressed a bold picture, taken from life, which he had introduced into his History of the Long Parliament and Assembly of Divines. Milton gave the unlicensed passages to the Earl of Anglesea, a literary nobleman, the editor of Whitelocke’s Memorials; and the castrated passage, which could not be licensed in 1670, was received with peculiar interest when separately published in 1681.6 “If there be found in an author’s book one sentence of a venturous edge, uttered in the height of zeal, and who knows whether it might not be the dictate of a divine spirit, yet not suiting every low decrepit humour of their own, they will not pardon him their dash.”

This office seems to have lain dormant a short time under Cromwell, from the scruples of a conscientious licenser, who desired the council of state, in 1649, for reasons given, to be discharged from that employment. This Mabot, the licenser, was evidently deeply touched by Milton’s address for “The Liberty of Unlicensed Printing.” The office was, however, revived on the restoration of Charles II.; and through the reign of James II. the abuses of licensers were unquestionably not discouraged: their castrations of books reprinted appear to have been very artful; for in reprinting Gage’s “Survey of the West Indies,” which originally consisted of twenty-two chapters, in 1648 and 1657, with a dedication to Sir Thomas Fairfax — in 1677, after expunging the passages in honour of Fairfax, the dedication is dexterously turned into a preface; and the twenty-second chapter being obnoxious for containing particulars of the artifices of “the papalins,” as Milton calls the Papists, in converting the author, was entirely chopped away by the licenser’s hatchet. The castrated chapter, as usual, was preserved afterwards separately. Literary despotism at least is short-sighted in its views, for the expedients it employs are certain of overturning themselves.

On this subject we must not omit noticing one of the noblest and most eloquent prose compositions of Milton; “the Areopagitica; a Speech for the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing.” It is a work of love and inspiration, and breathing the most enlarged spirit of literature; separating, at an awful distance from the multitude, that character “who was born to study and to love learning for itself, not for lucre, or any other end, but, perhaps, for that lasting fame and perpetuity of praise, which God and good men have consented shall be the reward of those whose published labours advance the good of mankind.”

One part of this unparalleled effusion turns on “the quality which ought to be in every licenser.” It will suit our new licensers of public opinion, a laborious corps well known, who constitute themselves without an act of Star-chamber. I shall pick out but a few sentences, that I may add some little facts, casually preserved, of the ineptitude of such an officer.

“He who is made judge to sit upon the birth or death of books, whether they may be wafted into this world or not, had need to be a man above the common measure, both studious, learned, and judicious; there may be else no mean mistakes in his censure. If he be of such worth as behoves him, there cannot be a more tedious and unpleasing journey-work, a greater loss of time levied upon his head, than to be made the perpetual reader of unchosen books and pamphlets. There is no book acceptable, unless at certain seasons; but to be enjoyned the reading of that at all times, whereof three pages would not down at any time, is an imposition which I cannot believe how he that values time and his own studies, or is but of a sensible nostril, should be able to endure. — What advantage is it to be a man over it is to be a boy at school, if we have only ‘scaped the ferula to come under the fescue of an Imprimatur? — if serious and elaborate writings, as if they were no more than the theme of a grammar lad under his pedagogue, must not be uttered without the cursory eyes of a temporising licenser? When a man writes to the world, he summons up all his reason and deliberation to assist him; he searches, meditates, is industrious, and likely consults and confers with his judicious friends, as well as any that writ before him; if in this, the most consummate act of his fidelity and ripeness, no years, no industry, no former proof of his abilities can bring him to that state of maturity as not to be still mistrusted and suspected, unless he carry all his considerate diligence, all his midnight watchings, and expense of Palladian oil, to the hasty view of an unleisured licenser, perhaps much his younger, perhaps inferior in judgment, perhaps one who never knew the labour of book writing; and if he be not repulsed or slighted, must appear in print like a Punie with his guardian, and his censor’s hand on the back of his title to be his bail and surety that he is no idiot or seducer, it cannot be but a dishonour and derogation to the author, to the book, to the privilege and dignity of learning.”

The reader may now follow the stream in the great original; I must, however, preserve one image of exquisite sarcasm.

“Debtors and delinquents walk about without a keeper; but inoffensive books must not stir forth without a visible jailor in their title; nor is it to the common people less than a reproach; for if we dare not trust them with an English pamphlet, what do we but censure them for a giddy, vitious, and ungrounded people, in such a sick and weak state of faith and discretion, as to be able to take nothing but thro’ the glister-pipe of a licenser!”

The ignorance and stupidity of these censors were often, indeed, as remarkable as their exterminating spirit. The noble simile of Milton, of Satan with the rising sun, in the first book of the Paradise Lost, had nearly occasioned the suppression of our national epic: it was supposed to contain a treasonable allusion. The tragedy of Arminius, by one Paterson, who was an amanuensis of the poet Thomson, was intended for representation, but the dramatic censor refused a license: as Edward and Eleanora was not permitted to be performed, being considered a party work, our sagacious state-critic imagined that Paterson’s own play was in the same predicament by being in the same hand-writing! Malebranche said, that he could never obtain an approbation for his “Research after Truth,” because it was unintelligible to his censors; at length Mezeray, the historian, approved of it as a book of geometry. Latterly, in France, it is said that the greatest geniuses were obliged to submit their works to the critical understanding of persons who had formerly been low dependents on some man of quality, and who appear to have brought the same servility of mind to the examination of works of genius. There is something, which, on the principle of incongruity and contrast, becomes exquisitely ludicrous, in observing the works of men of genius allowed to be printed, and even commended, by certain persons who have never printed their names but to their licenses. One of these gentlemen suppressed a work, because it contained principles of government which appeared to him not conformable to the laws of Moses. Another said to a geometrician —“I cannot permit the publication of your book: you dare to say, that, between two given points, the shortest line is the straight line. Do you think me such an idiot as not to perceive your allusion? If your work appeared, I should make enemies of all those who find, by crooked ways, an easier admittance into court, than by a straight line. Consider their number!” This seems, however, to be an excellent joke. At this moment the censors in Austria appear singularly inept; for, not long ago, they condemned as heretical, two books; one of which, entitled ”Principes de la Trigonométrie,“ the censor would not allow to be printed, because the Trinity, which he imagined to be included in trigonometry, was not permitted to be discussed: and the other, on the “Destruction of Insects,” he insisted had a covert allusion to the Jesuits, who, he conceived, were thus malignantly designated.

A curious literary anecdote has been recorded of the learned Richard Simon. Compelled to insert in one of his works the qualifying opinions of the censor of the Sorbonne, he inserted them within crotchets. But a strange misfortune attended this contrivance. The printer, who was not let into the secret, printed the work without these essential marks: by which means the enraged author saw his own peculiar opinions overturned in the very work written to maintain them!

These appear trifling minutiæ; and yet, like a hair in a watch, which utterly destroys its progress, these little ineptiæ obliged writers to have recourse to foreign presses; compelled a Montesquieu to write with concealed ambiguity, and many to sign a recantation of principles which they could never change. The recantation of Selden, extorted from his hand on his suppressed “Historie of Tithes,” humiliated a great mind; but it could not remove a particle from the masses of his learning, nor darken the luminous conviction of his reasonings; nor did it diminish the number of those who assented and now assent to his principles. Recantations usually prove the force of authority rather than the change of opinion. When a Dr. Pocklington was condemned to make a recantation, he hit the etymology of the word, while he caught at the spirit — he began thus: “If canto be to sing, recanto is to sing again.” So that he rechanted his offending opinions, by repeating them in his recantation.

At the Revolution in England, licenses for the press ceased; but its liberty did not commence till 1694, when every restraint was taken off by the firm and decisive tone of the Commons. It was granted, says our philosophic Hume, “to the great displeasure of the king and his ministers, who, seeing nowhere in any government, during present or past ages, any example of such unlimited freedom, doubted much of its salutary effects; and probably thought that no books or writings would ever so much improve the general understanding of men, as to render it safe to entrust them with an indulgence so easily abused.”

And the present moment verifies the prescient conjecture of the philosopher. Such is the licentiousness of our press, that some, not perhaps the most hostile to the cause of freedom, would not be averse to manacle authors once more with an IMPRIMATUR. It will not be denied that Erasmus was a friend to the freedom of the press; yet he was so shocked at the licentiousness of Luther’s pen, that there was a time when he considered it necessary to restrain its liberty. It was then as now. Erasmus had, indeed, been miserably calumniated, and expected future libels. I am glad, however, to observe, that he afterwards, on a more impartial investigation, confessed that such a remedy was much more dangerous than the disease. To restrain the liberty of the press, can only be the interest of the individual, never that of the public; one must be a patriot here: we must stand in the field with an unshielded breast, since the safety of the people is the supreme law. There were, in Milton’s days, some who said of this institution, that, although the inventors were bad, the thing, for all that, might be good. “This may be so,” replies the vehement advocate for “unlicensed printing.” But as the commonwealths have existed through all ages, and have forborne to use it, he sees no necessity for the invention; and held it as a dangerous and suspicious fruit from the tree which bore it. The ages of the wisest commonwealths, Milton seems not to have recollected, were not diseased with the popular infection of publications, issuing at all hours, and propagated with a celerity on which the ancients could not calculate. The learned Dr. James, who has denounced the invention of the Indexes, confesses, however, that it was not unuseful when it restrained the publications of atheistic and immoral works. But it is our lot to bear with all the consequent evils, that we may preserve the good inviolate; since, as the profound Hume has declared, “The LIBERTY OF BRITAIN IS GONE FOR EVER, when such attempts shall succeed.”

A constitutional sovereign will consider the freedom of the press as the sole organ of the feelings of the people. Calumniators he will leave to the fate of calumny; a fate similar to those who, having overcharged their arms with the fellest intentions, find that the death which they intended for others, in bursting, only annihilates themselves.

1 Sir Thomas Crew’s Collection of the Proceedings of the Parliament, 1628, p. 71.

2 The consequence of this prohibition was, that our own men of learning were at a loss to know what arms the enemies of England, and of her religion, were fabricating against us. This knowledge was absolutely necessary, as appears by a curious fact in Strype’s Life of Whitgift. A license for the importation of foreign books was granted to an Italian merchant, with orders to collect abroad this sort of libels; but he was to deposit them with the archbishop and the privy council. A few, no doubt, were obtained by the curious, Catholic or Protestant. — Strype’s “Life of Whitgift,” p. 268.

3 The author, with his publisher, who had their right hands cut off, was John Stubbs of Lincoln’s Inn, a hot-headed Puritan, whose sister was married to Thomas Cartwright, the head of that faction. This execution took place upon a scaffold, in the market-place at Westminster. After Stubbs had his right hand cut off, with his left he pulled off his hat, and cried with a loud voice, “God save the Queen!” the multitude standing deeply silent, either out of horror at this new and unwonted kind of punishment, or else out of commiseration of the undaunted man, whose character was unblemished. Camden, a witness to this transaction, has related it. The author, and the printer, and the publisher were condemned to this barbarous punishment, on an act of Philip and Mary, against the authors and publishers of seditious writings. Some lawyers were honest enough to assert that the sentence was erroneous, for that act was only a temporary one, and died with Queen Mary; but, of these honest lawyers, one was sent to the Tower, and another was so sharply reprimanded, that he resigned his place as a judge in the Common Pleas. Other lawyers, as the lord chief justice, who fawned on the prerogative far more then than afterwards in the Stuart reigns, asserted that Queen Mary was a king; and that an act made by any king, unless repealed, must always exist, because the King of England never dies!

4 A letter from J. Mead to Sir M. Stuteville, July 19, 1628. Sloane MSS. 4178.

5 See “Calamities of Authors,” vol. ii. p. 116.

6 It is a quarto tract, entitled “Mr. John Milton’s Character of the Long Parliament and Assembly of Divines in 1641; omitted in his other works, and never before printed, and very seasonable for these times. 1681.” It is inserted in the uncastrated edition of Milton’s prose works in 1738. It is a retort on the Presbyterian Clement Walker’s History of the Independents; and Warburton, in his admirable characters of the historians of this period, alluding to Clement Walker, says —“Milton was even with him in the fine and severe character he draws of the Presbyterian administration.”

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