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abuses have made it contemptible? Lastly, and which of itself would suffice to justify the rejection of such a plan-unless all proportion between crime and punishment were abandoned, what penalties could the law attach to the assumption of a liberty, which it had denied, more severe than those which it now attaches to the abuse of the liberty, which it grants? In all those instances at least, which it would be most the inclination-perhaps the duty ―of the state to prevent, namely, in seditious and incendiary publications,―(whether actually such, or only such as the existing government chose so to denominate, makes no difference in the argument) -the publisher, who hazards the punishment now assigned to seditious publications, would assuredly hazard the penalties of unlicensed ones, especially as the very practice of licensing would naturally diminish the attention to the contents of the works published, the chance of impunity therefore be so much greater, and the artifice of prefixing an unauthorised license so likely to escape detection. It is a fact, that in many of the former German states in which literature flourished, notwithstanding the establishment of censors or licensers, three fourths of the books printed were unlicensed-even those, the contents of which were unobjectionable, and where the sole motive for evading the law, must have been either the pride and delicacy of the author, or the indolence of the bookseller. So diffi
cult was the detection, so various the means of evasion, and worse than all, from the nature of the law and the affront it offers to the pride of human nature, such was the merit attached to the breach of it—a merit commencing perhaps with Luther's Bible, and other prohibited works of similar great minds, published with no dissimilar purpose, and thence by many an intermediate link of association finally connected with books, of the very titles of which a good man would wish to remain ignorant. The interdictory catalogues of the Romish hierarchy always present to my fancy the muster-rolls of the two hostile armies of Michael and of Satan printed promiscuously, or extracted at haphazard, save only that the extracts from the former appear somewhat the more numerous. And yet even in Naples, and in Rome itself, whatever difficulty occurs in procuring any article catalogued in these formidable folios, must arise either from the scarcity of the work itself, or the absence of all interest in it. Assuredly there is no difficulty in obtaining from the most respectable booksellers the vilest provocatives to the basest crimes, though intermixed with gross lampoons on the heads of the church, the religious orders, and on religion itself. The stranger is invited into an inner room, and the proscribed wares presented to him with most significant looks and gestures, implying the hazard, and the necessity of secresy. A creditable English bookseller would deem himself insulted, if such
works were even inquired after at his shop. It is a well-known fact, that with the mournful exception indeed of political provocatives, and the titillations of vulgar envy provided by our anonymous critics, the loathsome articles are among us vended and offered for sale almost exclusively by foreigners. Such are the salutary effects of a free press, and the generous habit of action imbibed from the blessed air of law and liberty, even by men who neither understand the principle, nor feel the sentiment, of the dignified purity, to which they yield obeisance from the instinct of character. As there is a national guilt which can be charged but gently on each individual, so are there national virtues, which can as little be imputed to the individuals, —no where, however, but in countries where liberty is the presiding influence, the universal medium and menstruum of all other excellence, moral and intellectual. Admirably doth the admirable Petrarch admonish us:—
Nec sibi vero quisquam falso persuadeat, eos qui pro libertate excubant, atque hactenus desertæ reipublicæ partes suscipiunt, alienum agere negotium; suum agunt. In hac una reposita sibi omnia norint omnes, securitatem mercator, gloriam miles, utilitatem agricola. Postremo, in eadem religiosi cærimonias, otium studiosi, requiem senes, rudimenta disciplinarum pueri, nuptias puellæ, pudicitiam matronæ, gaudium omnes invenient. * Huic uni reliquæ
cedant curæ! Si hanc omittitis, in quantalibet occupatione nihil agitis: si huic incumbitis, etsi nihil agere videmini, cumulate tamen et civium et virorum implevistis officia.*
Nor let any one falsely persuade himself, that those who keep watch and ward for liberty, are meddling with things that do not concern them, instead of minding their own business. For all men should know, that all blessings are stored and protected in this one, as in a common repository. Here is the tradesman's security, the soldier's honour, the agriculturist's profit. Lastly, in this one good of liberty the religious will find the permission of their rites and forms of worship, the students their learned leisure, the aged their repose, boys the rudiments of the several branches of their education, maidens their chaste nuptials, matrons their womanly honour and the dignity of their modesty, fathers of families the dues of natural affection and the sacred privileges of their ancient home, every one their hope and their joy. To this one solicitude therefore let all other cares yield the priority. If you omit this, be occupied as much and sedulously as you may, you are doing nothing: If you apply your heart and strength to this, though you seem
*Petrarch. Epist. 45. ad Nicolaum tribunum urbis alma novissimum et ad populum Romanum. The translation contains clauses referring to expressions, which in the second edition, were inserted in the Latin quotation by Mr. C. himself.-Ed.
to be doing nothing, you will, nevertheless, have been fulfilling the duties of citizens and of men, yea, in a measure pressed down and running over.
I quote Petrarch often in the hope of drawing the attention of scholars to his inestimable Latin writings. Let me add, in the wish likewise of recommending to the London publishers a translation of select passages from his treatises and letters. If I except the German writings and original letters of the heroic Luther, I do not remember a work from which so delightful and instructive a volume might be compiled.
To give the true bent to the above extract, it is necessary to bear in mind, that he who keeps watch and ward for freedom, has to guard against two enemies, the despotism of the few and the despotism of the many-but especially in the present day against the sycophants of the populace.
Licence they mean, when they cry liberty!
For who loves that, must first be wise and good.