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diance; while the whole noise of timorous flocking birds, with those also that love the twilight, flutter about, amazed at what she means, and in their envious gabble would prognosticate a year of sects and schisms.
What should ye do then, should ye suppress all this flowery crop of knowledge and new light, sprung up, and yet springing daily in this city? Should ye set an oligarchy to bring a famine upon our minds again, when we shall know nothing but what is measured to us by their bushel ?
Believe it, lords and commons, they who counsel you to such a suppressing of [books], do as good, bid you suppress yourselves; and I will soon shew how. If it be desired to know the immediate cause of all this free writing and free speaking, there cannot be assigned a truer than your own mild and free and humane government. It is Liberty which is the nurse of all great wits; this is that which hath rarified and enlightened our spirits, like the influence of heaven; this is that which hath enfranchised, enlarged, and lifted up our apprehensions degrees above themselves. Ye cannot make us now less capable, less knowing, less eagerly prising of the truth, unless you first make yourselves, who made us so, less the founders of our true liberty. We can grow ignorant again, brutish, formal, and slavish as you found us; but you must first become that which you cannot be, oppressive, arbitrary, and tyrannous, as they were from whom ye have freed us. That our hearts are now more capacious, our thoughts more erected to the search and
and expectation of greatest and exactest things, is the issue of your own virtue propagated in us. Although I dispraise not the defence of just inmunities; yet give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely, according to conscience, above all liberties.
As good almost kill a man as kill a book who kills a man, kills a reasonable creature, God's image; but he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were, in the eye. Many a man lives a burthen to the earth; but a good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life. It is true, no age can restore a life, whereof perhaps there is no great loss; and revolutions of ages do not oft recover the loss of a rejected truth, for the want of which whole nations fare the We should be wary therefore what persecution we raise against the living labours of public men, how we spill that seasoned life of man, preserved and stored up in books; since we see a kind of homicide may be thus committed, sometimes a martyrdom; and if it extend to the whole impression, a kind of massacre, whereof the execution ends not in the slaying of an elemental life, but strikes at that ethereal and sift essence, the breath of reason itself, slays an immortality rather
than a life.