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Title: Books Condemned to be Burnt
Author: Farrer, James Anson
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's Note: Variations in spelling and hyphenation have
been left as in the original. A complete list of typographical
and punctuation corrections follows the text. Words italicized in
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a row of asterisks represents an ellipsis. Other ellipses match the
original. More notes follow the text.

The Book-Lover's Library.

Edited by

Henry B. Wheatley, F.S.A.

                        BOOKS CONDEMNED
                         TO BE BURNT.

                      JAMES ANSON FARRER,



_When did books first come to be burnt in England by the common
hangman, and what was the last book to be so treated? This is the
sort of question that occurs to a rational curiosity, but it is
just this sort of question to which it is often most difficult to
find an answer. Historians are generally too engrossed with the
details of battles, all as drearily similar to one another as
scenes of murder and rapine must of necessity be, to spare a
glance for the far brighter and more instructive field of the
mutations or of the progress of manners. The following work is an
attempt to supply the deficiency on this particular subject._

_I am indebted to chance for having directed me to the interest
of book-burning as an episode in the history of the world's
manners, the discursive allusions to it in the old numbers of
"Notes and Queries" hinting to me the desirability of a more
systematic mode of treatment. To bibliographers and literary
historians I conceived that such a work might prove of utility
and interest, and possibly serve to others as an introduction and
incentive to a branch of our literary history that is not without
its fascination. But I must also own to a less unselfish motive,
for I imagined that not without its reward of delight would be a
temporary sojourn among the books which, for their boldness of
utterance or unconventional opinions, were not only not received
by the best literary society of their day, but were with ignominy
expelled from it. Nor was I wrong in my calculation._

_But could I impart or convey the same delight to others?
Clearly all that I could do was to invite them to enter on the
same road, myself only subserving the humble functions of a
signpost. I could avoid merely compiling for them a
bibliographical dictionary, but I could not treat at length of
each offender in my catalogue, without, in so exhausting my
subject, exhausting at the same time my reader's patience. I have
tried therefore to give something of the life of their history
and times to the authors with whom I came in contact; to cast a
little light on the idiosyncrasies or misfortunes of this one or
of that; but to do them full justice, and to enable the reader to
make their complete acquaintance, how was that possible with any
regard for the laws of literary proportion? All I could do was to
aim at something less dull than a dictionary, but something far
short of a history._

_I trust that no one will be either attracted or alarmed by any
anticipations suggested by the title of my book. Although
primarily a book for the library, it is also one of which no
drawing-room table need be the least afraid. If I have found
anything in my condemned authors which they would have done
better to have left unsaid, I have, in referring to their
fortunes, felt under no compulsion to reproduce their
indiscretions. But, in all of them put together, I doubt whether
there is as much to offend a scrupulous taste as in many a
latter-day novel, the claim of which to the distinction of
burning is often as indisputable as the certainty of its
regrettable immunity from that fiery but fitting fate._

_The custom I write about suggests some obvious reflections on
the mutability of our national manners. Was the wisdom of our
ancestors really so much greater than our own, as many profess
to believe? If so, it is strange with how much of that wisdom we
have learnt to dispense. One by one their old customs have fallen
away from us, and I fancy that if any gentleman could come back
to us from the seventeenth century, he would be less astonished
by the novel sights he would see than by the old familiar sights
he would miss. He would see no one standing in the pillory, no
one being burnt at a stake, no one being "swum" for witchcraft,
no one's veracity being tested by torture, and, above all, no
hangman burning books at Cheapside, no unfortunate authors being
flogged all the way from Fleet Street to Westminster. The absence
of these things would probably strike him more than even the
railways and the telegraph wires. Returning with his old-world
ideas, he would wonder how life and property had survived the
removal of their time-honoured props, or how, when all fear of
punishment had been removed from the press, Church and State were
still where he had left them. Reflecting on these things, he
would recognise the fact that he himself had been living in an
age of barbarism from which we, his posterity, were in process of
gradual emergence. What vistas of still further improvement would
not then be conjured up before his mind!_

_We can hardly wonder at our ancestors burning books when we
recollect their readiness to burn one another. It was not till
the year 1790 that women ceased to be liable to be burnt alive
for high or for _petit_ treason, and Blackstone found nothing to
say against it. He saw nothing unfair in burning a woman for
coining, but in only hanging a man. "The punishment of _petit_
treason," he says, "in a man is to be drawn and hanged, and in a
woman to be drawn and burned; the idea of which latter punishment
seems to have been handed down to us by the ancient Druids, which
condemned a woman to be burnt for murdering her husband, and it
is now the usual punishment for all sorts of treasons committed
by those of the female sex." Not a suspicion seems to have
crossed the great jurist's mind that the supposed barbarity of
the Druids was not altogether a conclusive justification for the
barbarity of his own contemporaries. So let us take warning from
his example, and let the history of our practice of book-burning
serve to help us to keep our minds open with regard to anomalies
which may still exist amongst us, descended from as suspicious an
origin, and as little supported by reason._


     INTRODUCTION                                          1


            II. BOOK-FIRES UNDER JAMES I                  48

           III. CHARLES THE FIRST'S BOOK-FIRES            69

            IV. BOOK-FIRES OF THE REBELLION               94

             V. BOOK-FIRES OF THE RESTORATION            117

            VI. BOOK-FIRES OF THE REVOLUTION             136

           VII. OUR LAST BOOK-FIRES                      170

     APPENDIX                                            191

     INDEX                                               201




There is the sort of attraction that belongs to all forbidden
fruit in books which some public authority has condemned to the
flames. And seeing that to collect something is a large part of
the secret of human happiness, it occurred to me that a variety
of the happiness that is sought in book collecting might be found
in making a collection of books of this sort. I have, therefore,
put together the following narrative of our burnt literature as
some kind of aid to any book-lover who shall choose to take my
hint and make the peculiarity I have indicated the key-note to
the formation of his library.

But the aid I offer is confined to books so condemned in the
United Kingdom. Those who would pursue the study farther afield,
and extend their wishes beyond the four seas, will find all the
aid they need or desire in Peignot's admirable _Dictionnaire
Critique, Littéraire, et Bibliographique des principaux Livres
condamnés au feu, supprimés ou censurés_: Paris, 1806. To have
extended my studies to cover this wider ground would have swollen
my book as well as my labour beyond the limits of my inclination.
I may mention that Hart's _Index Expurgatorius_ covers this wider
ground for England, as far as it goes.

Nevertheless, I may, perhaps, appropriately, by way of
introduction, refer to some episodes and illustrations of
book-burning, to show the place the custom had in the development
of civilisation, and the distinction of good or bad company and
ancient lineage enjoyed by such books as their punishment by
burning entitles to places on the shelves of our fire-library.
The custom was of pagan observance long before it passed into
Christian practice; and for its existence in Greece, and for the
first instance I know of, I would refer to the once famous or
notorious work of Protagoras, certainly one of the wisest
philosophers or sophists of ancient times. He was the first
avowed Agnostic, for he wrote a work on the gods, of which the
very first remark was that the existence of gods at all he could
not himself either affirm or deny. For this offensive sentiment
his book was publicly burnt; but Protagoras, could he have
foreseen the future, might have esteemed himself happy to have
lived before the Christian epoch, when authors came to share with
their works the purifying process of fire. The world grew less
humane as well as less sensible as it grew older, and came to
think more of orthodoxy than of any other condition of the mind.

The virtuous Romans appear to have been greater book-burners than
the Greeks, both under the Republic and under the Empire. It was
the Senate's function to condemn books to the flames, and the
prætor's to see that it was done, generally in the Forum. But for
this evil habit we might still possess many valuable works, such
as the books attributed to Numa on Pontifical law (Livy xl.), and
those eulogies of Pætus Thrasea and Helvidius, which were burnt,
and their authors put to death, under the tyranny of Domitian
(Tacitus, Agricola 2). Let these cases suffice to connect the
custom with Pagan Rome, and to prove that this particular mode
of warring with the expression of free thought boasts its
precedents in pre-Christian antiquity.

Nevertheless it is the custom as it was manifested in Christian
times that has chief interest for us, because it is only with
condemned books of this period that we have any chance of
practical acquaintance. Some of these survived the flames, whilst
none of antiquity's burning have come down to us. But on what
principle it was that the burning authorities (in France
generally the Parlement of Paris, or of the provinces), burnt
some books, whilst others were only censured, condemned, or
suppressed, I am unable to say, and I doubt whether any principle
was involved. Peignot has noticed the chief books stigmatised by
authority in all these various ways; but though undoubtedly this
wider view is more philosophical, the view is quite comprehensive
enough which confines itself to the consideration of books that
were condemned to be burnt.

Books so treated may be classified according as they offended
against (i) the religion, (ii) the morals, or (iii) the politics
of the day, those against the first being by far the most
numerous, and so admitting here of notice only of their most
conspicuous specimens.

I. Of all the books burnt for offence under the first head, the
most to be regretted, from an historical point of view, I take to
be Porphyry's _Treatise against the Christians_, which was burnt
A.D. 388 by order of Theodosius the Great. Porphyry believed that
Daniel's prophecies had been written after the events foretold in
them by some one who took the name of Daniel. It would have been
interesting to have known Porphyry's grounds for this not
improbable opinion, as well as his general charges against the
Christians; and if there is anything in the tradition of the
survival of a copy of Porphyry in one of the libraries of
Florence, the testimony of the distinguished Platonist may yet
enlighten us on the causes of the growing darkness of the age in
which he lived.

All the books of the famous Abelard were burnt by order of Pope
Innocent II.; but it was his _Treatise on the Trinity_, condemned
by the Council of Soissons about 1121, and by the Council of Sens
in 1140, which chiefly led St. Bernard to his cruel persecution
of this famous man. That great saint, using the habitual language
of ecclesiastical charity, called Abelard an infernal dragon and
the precursor of Antichrist. Among his heresies Abelard seems to
have held the opinion that the devil has no power over man; but
at all events the Church had in those days, as Abelard learnt to
his cost, though, considering that his disciple Arnauld of
Brescia was destined to be burnt alive at Rome in 1155, Abelard
might have deemed himself fortunate in only incurring
imprisonment, and not sharing the fate of his works as well as
that of his illustrious follower.

The latter calamity befell John Huss, who, having been led before
the bishop's palace to see his own condemned works burnt, was
then led on to be burnt himself, in 1415. Many of his works,
however, were republished in the following century; but the
twenty-nine errors which the Council of Constance detected in his
work on the Church would probably nowadays seem venial enough. It
was his misfortune to live in those days when the inhumanity of
the world was at its climax.

It continued at that climax for some time, though heretical
authors were not always burnt with their books. Enjedim, for
instance, the Hungarian Socinian, who died in 1596, survived the
burning in many places of his "Explanations of Difficult Passages
of the Old and New Testament, from which the Dogma of the
Trinity is usually established" (_Explicationes locorum
difficilium_, etc.). Peter d'Osma also, the Spanish theologian,
whose _Treatise on Confession_ was condemned by the Archbishop of
Toledo in the fifteenth century, might have esteemed himself
happy that only his chair shared the burning of his book.
Pomponacius, an Italian professor of philosophy, whose _Treatise
on the Immortality of the Soul_ (1516), was burnt by the
Venetians for the heretical opinion that the soul's immortality
was not believed by Aristotle, and could only be proved by
Scripture and the authority of the Church, seems to have died
peacefully in 1526, albeit with the reputation of an atheist,
which his writings do not support. Despériers was only imprisoned
when his _Cymbalum Mundi_, censured by the Sorbonne, was
consigned to the flames by the Parlement of Paris (March 7th,
1537). And Luther, all of whose works were condemned to be burnt
by the Diet of Worms (1521), actually survived their burning
twenty-five years, though he himself had publicly burnt at
Wittenberg Leo X.'s bull, anathematising his books, as well as
the Decretals of previous Popes.

Less fortunate than these were the famous martyrs of free
thought, Dolet, Servetus, and Tyndale. All the works, which Dolet
wrote or printed, were burnt as heretical by the Parlement of
Paris (February 14th, 1543), and himself hanged and burnt three
years later (August 3rd, 1546), at the age of thirty-seven. The
reason seems chiefly to have been Dolet's unsparing exposure of
the immoralities of monks and priests, and of the plan of the
Sorbonne to put down the art of printing in France. In Peignot is
preserved a long list of the names of the works to the
publication of which he lent his aid.

The burning of Servetus, the Parisian doctor, at Geneva (October
27th, 1553), because his opinions on the Trinity did not agree
with Calvin's, is of course the greatest blot on the memory of
Calvin. All his books or manuscripts were burnt with him or
elsewhere, so that his works are among the rarest of
bibliographical treasures, and his _Christianismi Restitutio_
(1553) is said to be the rarest book in the world. But apart from
their rarity, I should hardly imagine that the works of Servetus
possessed the slightest interest, or that their loss was the
smallest loss to the literature of the world.

But if Calvin must bear the burden of the death of Servetus,
Christianity itself is responsible for the death of William
Tyndale, who, deeming it desirable that his countrymen should
possess in their own language the book on which their religion
was founded, took the infinite trouble of translating the
Scriptures into English. His New Testament was forthwith burnt in
London, and himself after some years strangled and burnt at
Antwerp (1536).

The same literary persecution continued in the next century, the
seventeenth. Bissendorf perished at the hands of the executioner
at the same time that his books, _Nodi gordii resolutio_ (on the
priestly calling), 1624, and _The Jesuits_, were burnt by the
same agent. In the case of the _De Republicâ Ecclesiasticâ_
(1617) by De Dominis, Christian savagery surpassed itself, for
not only was it burnt by sentence of the Inquisition, but also
the dead body of its author was exhumed for the purpose. Dominis
had been a Jesuit for twenty years, then a bishop, and finally
Archbishop of Spalatro. This office he gave up, and retired to
England, where he might write with greater freedom than in Italy.
There he wrote this work and a history of the Council of Trent.
His chief offence was his advocacy of the unchristian principles
of toleration; he wished to reunite and reconcile the Christian
communions. But alas for human frailty! he retracted his errors,
many of them most sensible opinions, in London, and again at
Rome, whither he returned. Pope Urban VIII., however, imprisoned
him in the Castle of St. Angelo, where he is said to have died of
poison, so that only his dead body was available to burn with his
book the same year (1625). Literary lives were tragic in those

Simon Morin was burnt with all the copies of his _Pensées_ that
could be found, on the Place de Grève, at Paris, March 14th,
1663. Morin called himself the Son of Man, and such thoughts of
his as survived the fire do not lead us in his case to grudge the
flames their literary fuel. But it is curious to think that we
are only two centuries from the time when the Parlement of Paris
could pass such a sentence on such a sufferer.

The Parlement of Dijon condemned to be burnt by the executioner
Morisot's _Ahitophili Veritatis Lacrymæ_ (July 4th, 1625), but
though this work was a violent satire upon the Jesuits, Morisot
survived his book thirty-six years, the Jesuits revenging
themselves with nothing worse than an epitaph, containing a bad
pun, to the effect that their enemy, after a life not spent in
wisdom, preferred to die as a fool (_Voluit mori-sot_).

In the same century Molinos, the Spanish priest, and founder of
Quietism, wrote his _Conduite Spirituelle_, which was condemned
to the flames for sixty-eight heretical propositions, whilst its
author was consigned to the prisons of the Inquisition, where he
died after eleven years of it (1696). Self-absorption of the soul
in God to the point of complete indifference to anything done to
or by the body, even to the sufferings of the latter in hell, was
the doctrine of Quietism that led ecclesiastic authority to feel
its usual alarm for consequences; and it must be admitted that
similar doctrines have at times played sad havoc with Christian
morality. But perhaps they helped Molinos the better to bear his

I may next refer to seventeenth-century writers who were
fortunate enough not to share the burning of their books. (1)
Wolkelius, a friend of Socinus, the edition of whose book _De
Verâ Religione_, published at Amsterdam in 1645, was there burnt
by order of the magistrates for its Socinian doctrines, appears
to have lived for many years afterwards. Schlicttingius, a
Polish follower of the same faith, escaped with expulsion from
Poland, when the Diet condemned his book, _Confessio Fidei
Christianæ_, to be burnt by the executioner. Sainte Foi, or
Gerberon, whose _Miroir de la Vérité Chrétienne_ was condemned by
several bishops and archbishops, and burnt by order of the
Parlement of Aix (1678), lived to write other works, of probably
as little interest. La Peyrère was only imprisoned at Brussels
for his book on the _Pre-adamites_, which was burnt at Paris
(1655). And Pascal saw his famous _Lettres à un Provincial_,
which made too free with the dignity of all authorities, secular
and religious, twice burnt, once in French (1657), and once in
Latin (1660), without himself incurring a similar penalty. So did
Derodon, professor of philosophy at Nismes, outlive the
_Disputatio_ (1645), in which he made light of Cyril of
Alexandria, and which was condemned and burnt by the Parlement of
Toulouse for its opposition to some beliefs of Roman Catholicism.

Passing now to the eighteenth century, we find book-burning, then
declining in England, in full vigour on the Continent.

The most important book that so suffered was Rousseau's admirable
treatise on education, entitled _Émile_ (1762), condemned by the
Parlement of Paris to be torn and burnt at the foot of its great
staircase. It was also burnt at Geneva. Three years later the
same writer's _Lettres de la Montagne_ were sentenced by the same
tribunal to the same fate. Not all burnt books should be read,
but Rousseau's _Émile_ is one that should be.

So should the Marquis de Langle's _Voyage en Espagne_, condemned
to the flames in 1788, but translated into English, German, and
Italian. De Langle anticipated this fate for his book if it ever
passed the Pyrenees: "So much the better," said he; "the reader
loves the books they burn, so does the publisher, and the author;
it is his blue ribbon." But, considering that he wrote against
the Inquisition, and similar inhumanities or follies of
Catholicism, De Langle must have been surprised at the burning of
his book in Paris itself.

A book at whose burning we may feel less surprise is the
_Théologie Portative ou Dictionnaire abrégéde la Religion
Chrétienne_, by the Abbé Bernier (1775), for a long time
attributed to Voltaire, but really the work of an apostate monk,
Dulaurent, who took refuge in Holland to write this and similar

The number of books of a similar strong anti-Catholic tendency
that were burnt in these years before the outbreak of the
Revolution should be noticed as helping to explain that event.
Their titles in most cases may suffice to indicate their nature.
De la Mettrie's _L'homme Machine_ (1748) was written and burnt in
Holland, its author being a doctor, of whom Voltaire said that he
was a madman who only wrote when he was drunk. Of a similar kind
was the _Testament_ of Jean Meslier, published posthumously in
the _Evangile de la Raison_, and condemned to the flames about
1765. On June 11th, 1763, the Parlement of Paris ordered to be
burnt an anonymous poem, called _La Religion à l'Assemblée du
Clergé de France_, in which the writer depicted in dark colours
the morals of the French bishops of the time (1762). On January
29th, 1768, was treated in the same way the _Histoire Impartiale
des Jésuites_ of Linguet, whose _Annales Politiques_ in 1779
conducted him to the Bastille, and who ultimately died at the
hands of the Revolutionary Tribunal (1794). But the 18th of
August, 1770, is memorable for having seen all the seven
following books sentenced to burning by the Parlement of Paris:--

1. Woolston's _Discours sur les Miracles de Jésus-Christ_,
translated from the English (1727).

2. Boulanger's _Christianisme dévoilé_.

3. Freret's _Examen Critique des Apologistes de la Religion
Chrétienne_, 1767.

4. The _Examen Impartial des Principales Religions du Monde_.

5. Baron d'Holbach's _Contagion Sacrée_, or _l'Histoire Naturelle
de la Superstition_, 1768.

6. Holbach's _Système de la Nature ou des Lois du Monde Physique
et du Monde Moral_.

7. Voltaire's _Dieu et les Hommes; oeuvre théologique, mais
raisonnable_ (1769).

No one writer, indeed, of the eighteenth century contributed so
many books to the flames as Voltaire. Besides the above work, the
following of his works incurred the same fate:--(1) the _Lettres
Philosophiques_ (1733), (2) the _Cantique des Cantiques_ (1759),
(3) the _Dictionnaire Philosophique_ (1764), also burnt at
Geneva; (4) _L'Homme aux Quarante Écus_ (1767), (5) _Le Dîner du
Comte de Boulainvilliers_ (1767). When we add to these burnings
the fact that at least fourteen works of Voltaire were condemned,
many others suppressed or forbidden, their author himself twice
imprisoned in the Bastille, and often persecuted or obliged to
fly from France, we must admit that seldom or never had any
writer so eventful a literary career.

II. Turning now to the books that were burnt for their real or
supposed immoral tendency, I may refer briefly in chronological
order to the following as the principal offenders, though of
course there is not always a clear distinction between what was
punished as immoral and punished as irreligious. This applies to
the four volumes of the works of the Carmelite Mantuanus,
published at Antwerp in 1576, of which nearly all the copies were
burnt. This facile poet, who is said to have composed 59,000
verses, was especially severe against women and against the
ecclesiastical profession. In 1664, the _Journal de Louis Gorin
de Saint Amour_, a satirical work, was condemned, chiefly
apparently because it contained the five propositions of
Jansenius. In 1623, the Parlement of Paris condemned Théophile to
be burnt with his book, _Le Parnasse des Poètes Satyriques_, but
the author escaped with his burning in effigy, and with
imprisonment in a dungeon. I am tempted to quote Théophile's
impromptu reply to a man who asserted that all poets were

     "Oui, je l'avoue avec vous
      Que tous les poêtes sont fous;
      Mais sachant ce que vous êtes
      Tous les fous ne sont pas poêtes."

Hélot also escaped with a burning in effigy when his _L'Ecole des
Filles_ was burnt at the foot of the gallows (1672). Lyser, who
spent his life and his property in the advocacy of polygamy, was
threatened by Christian V. with capital punishment if he appeared
in Denmark, and his _Discursus Politicus de Polygamia_ was
sentenced to public burning (1677).

In the eighteenth century (1717) Gigli's satire, the _Vocabulario
di Santa Caterina e della lingua Sanese_; Dufresnoy's _Princesses
Malabares, ou le Célibat Philosophique_ (1734); Deslandes'
_Pigmalion ou la Statue Animée_ (1741); the Jesuit Busembaum's
_Theologia Moralis_ (which defends as an act of charity the
commission to kill an excommunicated person), (1757); Toussaint's
_Les Moeurs_ (1748); and the Abbé Talbert's satirical poem,
_Langrognet aux Enfers_ (1760),--seem to complete the list of the
principal works burnt by public authority. And of these the best
is Toussaint's, who in 1764 published an apology for or
retraction of his _Moeurs_, which has far less claim upon
public attention than was obtained and merited by the original

III. Books condemned for some unpopular political tendency may
likewise be arranged in the order of their centuries.

In the sixteenth, the most important are Louis d'Orléans'
_Expostulatio_ (1593), a violent attack on Henri IV., and
condemned by the Parlement of Paris; Archbishop Génébrard's _De
sacrarum electionum jure et necessitate ad Ecclesiæ Gallicanæ
redintegrationem_ (1593), condemned by the Parlement of Aix, and
its author exiled. He maintained the right of the clergy and
people to elect bishops against their nomination by the king. It
is curious that the Parlement of Paris thought it necessary to
burn the Jesuit Mariana's book _De Rege_ (1599) as
anti-monarchical, seeing that it appeared with the privilege of
the King of Spain. He maintained the right of killing a king for
the cause of religion, and called Jacques Clement's act of
assassination France's everlasting glory (_Galliæ æternum
decus_). But it is only fair to add that the superior of the
Order disapproved of the work as much as the Sorbonne.

In the seventeenth century, I notice first the _Ecclesiasticus_
of Scioppius, a work directed against our James I. and Casaubon
(1611). The libel having been burnt in London, and its author
hanged and beaten in effigy before the king on the stage, was
burnt in Paris by order of the Parlement, chiefly for its
calumnies on Henri IV. The author, originally a Jesuit, has been
called the Attila of writers, having been said to have known the
abusive terms of all tongues, and to have had them on the tip of
his own. He wrote 104 works, apparently of the violent sort, so
that Casaubon called him, according to the style of learned men
in those days, "the most cruel of all wild beasts," whilst the
Jesuits called him "the public pest of letters and society."

The Senate of Venice caused to be burnt the _Della Liberta
Veneta_, by a man who called himself Squitinio (1612), because it
denied the independence of the Republic, and asserted that the
Emperor had rightful claims over it; and about the same time
(1617) the Parlement of Paris consigned to the same penalty
D'Aubigné's _Histoire Universelle_ for the freedom of its satire
on Charles IX., Henri III., Henri IV., and other French royal
personages of the time. The second edition of D'Aubigné (1626) is
the poorer for being shorn of these caustic passages.

The Jesuit Keller's _Admonitio ad Ludovicum XIII._ (1625), and
the same author's Mysteria Politica, (1625), were both sentenced
to be burnt; also the Jesuit Sanctarel's _Tractatus de Hæresi_
(1625), which claimed for the Pope the right to dispose, not only
of the thrones, but also of the lives of princes. This doctrine
was approved by the General of the Jesuits, but, under threat of
being accounted guilty of treason, expressly disclaimed by the
Jesuits as a body. In resisting such pretensions, the Sorbonne
deserved well of France and of humanity. In 1665, the Châtelet
ordered to be burnt Claude Joly's _Recueil des Maximes véritables
et importantes pour l'Institution du Roi, contre la fausse et
pernicieuse politique de Cardinal prétendu surintendant de
l'éducation de Louis XIV._ (1652); a book which, if it had been
regarded instead of being burnt, might have altered the character
of that pernicious devastator, and therefore of history itself,
very much for the better. About the same time, Milton's _Pro
Populo Anglicano Defensio_, not to be burnt in England till the
Restoration, had a foretaste in Paris of its ultimate fate.
Eustache le Noble's satire against the Dutch, _Dialogue d'Esope
et de Mercure_, and burnt by the executioner at Amsterdam, may
complete the list of political works that paid for their
offences by fire in the seventeenth century.

The first to notice in the next century is Giannone's _Historia
Civile de Regno di Napoli_ (1723), in five volumes, burnt by the
Inquisition, which, but for his escape, would have suppressed the
author as well as his book, for his free criticism of Popes and
ecclesiastics. His escape saved the eighteenth century from the
reproach of burning a writer. Next deserves a passing allusion
the _Historia Nostri Temporis_, by the once famous writer Emmius,
whose posthumous book suffered at the hands of George Albert,
Prince of East Frisia. The Parlement of Toulouse condemned
Reboulet's _Histoire des Filles de la Congrégation de l'Enfance_
(1734) for accusing Madame de Moudonville, the founder of that
convent, of publishing libels against the king. That of Paris and
Besançon condemned Boncerf's _Des Inconvéniens des Droits
Féodaux_ (1770).

The number, indeed, of political works burnt during the eighth
decade of the last century is as remarkable as the number of
religious books so treated about the same period: one of the
lesser indications of the coming Revolution. During this decade
were condemned: (1) Pidanzet's _Correspondance secrète familière
de Chancelier Maupeon avec Sorhouet_ (1771) for being
blasphemous and seditious, and calculated to rouse people against
government; a work that made sport of Maupeon and his Parlement.
(2) Beaumarchais' _Mémoires_ (1774), of the literary style of
which Voltaire himself is said to have been jealous, but which
was condemned to the flames for its imputations on the powers
that were. (3) Lanjuinais' _Monarque Accompli_ (1774), whose
other title explains why it was condemned, as tending to sedition
and revolt, _Prodiges de bonté, de savoir, et de sagesse, qui
font l'éloge de Sa Majesté Impériale Joseph II., et qui rendent
cet auguste monarque si précieux à l'humanité, discutés au
tribunal de la raison et l'équité_. Lanjuinais, principal of a
Catholic college in Switzerland, passed over to the Reformed
Religion. (4) Martin de Marivaux's _L'Ami des Lois_ (1775), a
pamphlet, in which the author protested against the words put
into the mouth of the king by Chancellor Maupeon, Sept. 7th,
1770: "We hold our Crown of God alone; the right of law-making,
without dependence or partition, belongs to us alone." The author
contended that the Crown was held only of the nation, and he
excited the vengeance of the Crown by sending a copy of his work
to each member of the Parlement. At the same time, to the same
penalty and for the same offence, was condemned to the flames _Le
Catéchisme du Citoyen, ou Elémens du Droit public Français, par
demandes et par réponses_; the episode, and the origin of the
dispute, clearly pointing to the rapidly approaching
Revolutionary whirlwind, the spirit of which these literary
productions anticipated and expressed.

The last book I find to notice is the Abbé Raynal's _Histoire
philosophique et politique des Etablissemens et du Commerce des
Européens dans les Deux Indes_, published in 1771 at Geneva, and,
after a first attempt at suppression in 1779, finally burnt by
the order of the Parlement of Paris of May 25th, 1781, as
impious, blasphemous, seditious, and the rest. Like many another
eminent writer, Raynal had started as a Jesuit.

From the above illustrations of the practice abroad, we may turn
to a more detailed account of its history in England. Although in
France it was much more common than in England during the
eighteenth century, it appears to have come to an end in both
countries about the same time. I am not aware of any proofs that
it survived the French Revolution, and it is probable that that
event, directly or indirectly, put an end to it. In England it
seems gradually to have dwindled, and to have become extinct
before the end of the century. If the same was the case in other
countries, it would afford another instance of the fundamental
community of development which seems to govern at least our part
of the civilised world, regardless of national differences or
boundaries. The different countries of the world seem to throw
off evil habits, or to acquire new habits, with a degree of
simultaneity which is all the more remarkable for being the
result of no sort of agreement. At one time, for instance, they
throw off Jesuitism, at another the practice of torture, at
another the judicial ordeal, at another burnings for heresy, at
another trials for witchcraft, at another book-burning; and now
the turn seems approaching of war, or the trade of professional
murder. The custom here to be dealt with, therefore, holds its
place in the history of humanity, and is as deserving of study as
any other custom whose rise and decline constitute a phase in the
world's development.



Fire, which is the destruction of so many things, and destined,
according to old Indian belief, one day to destroy the world, is
so peculiarly the enemy of books, that the worm itself is not
more fatal to them. Whole libraries have fallen a prey to the
flames, and oftener, alas! by design than accident; the warrior
always, whether Alexander at Persepolis, Antiochus at Jerusalem,
Cæsar and Omar at Alexandria, or General Ulrich at Strasburg (in
1870), esteeming it among the first duties of his barbarous
calling to consign ideas and arts to destruction.

But these are the fires of indiscriminate rage, due to the
natural antagonism between civilisation and military barbarism;
it is fire, discriminately applied, that attaches a special
interest and value to books condemned to it. Whether the sentence
has come from Pope or Archbishop, Parliament or King, the book so
sentenced has a claim on our curiosity, and as often on our
respect as our disdain. Fire, indeed, has been spoken of as the
blue ribbon of literature, and many a modern author may fairly
regret that such a distinction is no longer attainable in these
days of enlightened advertisement.

To collect books that have been dishonoured--or honoured--in this
way, books that at the risk of heavy punishment have been saved
from the public fire or the common hangman, is no mean amusement
for a bibliophile. Some collect books for their bindings, some
for their rarity, a minority for their contents; but he who
collects a fire-library makes all these considerations secondary
to the associations of his books with the lives of their authors
and their place in the history of ideas. Perhaps he is thereby
the more rational collector, if reason at all need be considered
in the matter; for if my whim pleases myself, let him go hang who
disdains or disapproves of it.

All the books of such a library are not, of course, suitable for
general reading, there being not a few disgraceful ones among
them that fully deserved the stigma intended for them. But most
are innocent enough, and many of them as dull as the authors of
their condemnation; whilst others, again, are so sparkling and
well written that I wish it were possible to rescue them from the
oblivion that enshrouds them even more thickly than the dust of
centuries. The English books of this sort naturally stand apart
from their foreign rivals, and may be roughly classified
according as they deal with the affairs of State or Church. The
original flavour has gone from many of them, like the scent from
dried flowers, with the dispute or ephemeral motive that gave
rise to them; but a new flavour from that very fact has taken the
place of the old, of the same sort that attaches to the relics of
extinct religions or of bygone forms of life.

The history of our country since the days of printing is exactly
reflected in its burnt literature, and so little has the public
fire been any respecter of class or dignity, that no branch of
intellectual activity has failed to contribute some author whose
work, or works, has been consigned to the flames. Our greatest
poets, philosophers, bishops, lawyers, novelists, heads of
colleges, are all represented in my collection, forming indeed a
motley but no insipid society, wherein the gravest questions of
government and the deepest problems of speculation are handled
with freedom, and men who were most divided in their lives meet
at last in a common bond of harmony. Cowell, the friend of
prerogative, finds himself here side by side with Milton, the
republican; and Sacheverell, the high churchman, in close company
with Tindal and Defoe.

For nearly 300 years the rude censorship of fire was applied to
literature in England, beginning naturally in that fierce
religious war we call the Reformation, which practically
constitutes the history of England for some two centuries. The
first grand occasion of book-burning was in response to the
Pope's sentence against Martin Luther, when Wolsey went in state
to St. Paul's, and many of Luther's publications were burned in
the churchyard during a sermon against them by Fisher, Bishop of
Rochester (1521).

But the first printed work by an Englishman that was so treated
was actually the Gospel. The story is too familiar to repeat, of
the two occasions on which Tyndale's New Testament in English was
burnt before Old St. Paul's; but in pausing to reflect that the
book which met with this fiery fate, and whose author ultimately
met with the same, is now sold in England by the million (for our
received version is substantially Tyndale's), one can only stand
aghast at the irony of the fearful contrast, which so widely
separated the labourer from his triumph. But perhaps we can
scarcely wonder that our ancestors, after centuries of mental
blindness, should have tried to burn the light they were unable
to bear, causing it thereby only to shine the brighter.

It certainly spread with remarkable celerity; for in 1546 it
became necessary to command all persons possessing them to
deliver to the bishop, or sheriff, to be openly burnt, all works
in English purporting to be written by Frith, Tyndale, Wicliff,
Joye, Basil, Bale, Barnes, Coverdale, Turner, or Tracy. The
extreme rarity and costliness of the works of these men are the
measure of the completeness with which this order was carried
out; but not of its success, for the ideas survived the books
which contained them. A list of the books is given in Foxe (v.
566), and comprises twelve by Coverdale, twenty-eight by Bale,
thirteen by Basil (_alias_ Becon), ten by Frith, nine by Tyndale,
seven by Joye, six by Turner, three by Barnes. Some of these may
still be read, but more are non-existent. A complete account of
them and their authors would almost amount to a history of the
Reformation itself; but as they were burnt indiscriminately, as
heretical books, they have not the same interest that attaches to
books specifically condemned as heretical or seditious. Such of
them, however, as a book-lover can light upon--and pay for--are,
of course, treasures of the highest order.

Great numbers of books were burnt in the reigns of Edward VI. and
Mary, but it is not till the reign of the latter that a
particular book stands forward as maltreated in this way. And,
indeed, so many men were burnt in the reign of Queen Mary, that
the burning of particular books may well have passed unnoticed,
though pyramids of Protestant volumes, as Mr. D'Israeli says,
were burnt in those few years of intolerance rampant and
triumphant. The _Historie of Italie_, by William Thomas (1549),
is sometimes said (on what authority I know not) to have been not
merely burnt, but burnt by the common hangman, at this time. If
so, it is the first that achieved a distinction which is
generally claimed for Prynne's _Histriomastix_ (1633). The fact
of the mere burning is of itself likely enough, for Thomas wrote
very freely of the clergy at Rome and of Pope Paul III.: "By
report, Rome is not without 40,000 harlots, maintained for the
most part by the clergy and their followers." "Oh! what a world
it is to see the pride and abomination that the churchmen there
maintain." Yet Thomas himself had held a Church living, and had
been clerk of the Council to Edward VI. He was among the ablest
men of his time, and wrote, among other works, a lively defence
of Henry VIII. in a work called _Peregryne_, on the title-page of
which are these lines:

     "He that dieth with honour, liveth for ever,
      And the defamed dead recovereth never."

And a sadly inglorious death was destined to be his own. For,
shortly after Wyatt's insurrection, he was sent to the Tower,
Wyatt at his own trial declaring that the conspiracy to
assassinate Queen Mary when out walking was Thomas's, he himself
having been opposed to it. For this cause, at all events, Thomas
was hanged and quartered in May 1554, and his head set the next
day upon London Bridge. He assured the crowd, in a speech before
his execution, that he died for his country. Wood says he was of
a hot, fiery spirit, that had sucked in damnable principles.
Possibly they were not otherwise than sensible, for if he died on
Wyatt's evidence alone, one cannot feel sure that he died
justly. But had the insurrection only succeeded, it is curious to
think what an amount of misery might have been spared to England,
and how dark a page been lacking from the history of

Thomas's book was republished in 1561: but the first edition,
that of 1549, is, of course, the right one to possess; though its
fate has caused it to be extremely rare.

Coming now to Queen Elizabeth's reign, the comparative rarity of
book-burning is an additional testimony to the wisdom of her
government. But (to say nothing of books that were prohibited or
got their printers or authors into trouble) certain works,
religious, political, and poetical, achieved the distinction of
being publicly burnt, and they are works that curiously
illustrate the manners of the time.

The most important under the first of these heads are the
translations of the works of Hendrick Niclas, of Leyden, Father
of the Family of Love, or House of Charity, which were thought
dangerous enough to be burnt by Royal Proclamation on October
13th, 1579; so that such works as the _Joyful Message of the
Kingdom_, _Peace upon Earth_, _the Prophecy of the Spirit of
Love_, and others, are now exceedingly rare and costly. There
are many extracts from the first of these in Knewstub's
_Confutation "of its monstrous and horrible blasphemies"_ (1579),
wherein I fail to recognise either the blasphemies or their
confutation, nor do I find anything but sense in Niclas's letter
to two daughters of Warwick, whom he seeks to dissuade from
suffering death on a matter of conformity to certain Church
ceremonies. He insists on the life or spirit of Christ as of more
importance than any ceremony. "How well would they do who do now
extol themselves before the simple, and say that they are the
preachers of Christ, if they would first learn to know Christ
before they made themselves ministers of Him!" "Whatever is
served without the Spirit of Christ, it is an abomination to
God." Nevertheless the young persons seem to have preferred death
to his very sensible advice.

Probably the Family of Love were misunderstood and
misrepresented, both as regards their doctrines and their
practices. Camden says that "under a show of singular integrity
and sanctity they insinuated themselves into the affections of
the ignorant common people"; that they regarded as reprobate all
outside their Family, and deemed it lawful to deny on oath
whatsoever they pleased. Niclas, according to Fuller, "wanted
learning in himself and hated it in others." This is a failing so
common as to be very probable, as it also is, that his disciples
allegorised the Scriptures (like the Alexandrian Fathers before
them), and counterfeited revelations. Fuller adds that they
"grieved the Comforter, charging all their sins on God's Spirit,
for not effectually assisting them against the same . . . sinning
on design that their wickedness might be a foil to God's mercy,
to set it off the brighter." But that they were Communists,
Anarchists, or Libertines, there is no evidence; and the Queen's
menial servant who wrote and presented to Parliament an apology
for the Service of Love probably complained with justice of their
being "defamed with many manner of false reports and lies." This
availed nothing, however, against public opinion; and so the
Queen commanded by proclamation "that the civil magistrate should
be assistant to the ecclesiastical, and that the books should be
publicly burnt." The sect, however, long survived the burning of
its books.

But already it was not enough to burn books of an unpopular
tendency, cruelty against the author being plainly progressive
from this time forward to the atrocious penalties afterwards
associated with the presence of Laud in the Star Chamber. All our
histories tell of John Stubbs, of Lincoln's Inn, who, when his
right hand had been cut off for a literary work, with his left
hand waved his hat from his head and cried, "Long live the
Queen!" The punishment was out of all proportion to the offence.
Men had a right to feel anxious when Elizabeth seemed on the
point of marrying the Catholic Duke of Anjou. They remembered the
days of Mary, and feared, with reason, the return of Catholicism.
Stubbs gave expression to this fear in a work entitled the
_Discoverie of a Gaping Gulf whereinto England is like to be
swallowed by another French marriage, if the Lord forbid not the
banes by letting her Majestie see the sin and punishment thereof_
(1579). Page, the disperser of the book, suffered the same
penalty as its author.

The book made a great stir and was widely circulated, much to
the vexation of the Queen. On September 27th appeared a very
long proclamation calling it "a lewd, seditious book . . .
bolstered up with manifest lies, &c.," and commanding it, wherever
found, "to be destroyed (= burnt) in open sight of some public
officer." The book itself is written with moderation and respect,
if we make allowance for the questionable taste of writing on so
delicate a subject at all. It is true that he calls France "a den
of idolatry, a kingdom of darkness, confessing Belial and serving
Baal"; nor does he spare the personal character of the Duke
himself: he only desires that her Majesty may marry with such a
house and such a person "as had not provoked the vengeance of the
Lord." But plain speaking was needed, and it is possible that the
offensive book had something to do with saving the Queen from a
great folly and the nation from as great a danger.

Stubbs, one is glad to find, though maimed, was neither disgraced
nor disheartened by his misfortune. He learnt to write with his
left hand, and wrote so much better with that than many people
with their right, that Lord Burleigh employed him many years
afterwards (1587) to compose an answer to Cardinal Allen's work,
_A Modest Answer to English Persecutors_. After that I lose sight
of Stubbs.

The strong feeling against Episcopacy, which first meets us in
works like Fish's _Supplication of Beggars_, or Tyndale's
_Practice of Prelates_, and which found vent at last, as a
powerful contributory cause, in the Revolution of the
seventeenth century, was most clearly pronounced under Elizabeth
in the famous tracts known as those of Martin Marprelate; and
among these most bitterly in a small work that was burnt by order
of the bishops, entitled a _Dialogue wherein is plainly laide
open the tyrannical dealing of Lord Bishops against God's Church,
with certain points of doctrine, wherein they approve themselves
(according to D. Bridges his judgement) to be truely Bishops of
the Divell_ (1589). This is shown in a sprightly dialogue between
a Puritan and a Papist, a jack of both sides, and an Idol
(_i.e._, church) minister, wherein the most is made of such facts
as that the Bishop of St. David's was summoned before the High
Commission for having two wives living, and that Bishop
Culpepper, of Oxford, was fond of hawking and hunting. It is
significant that this little tract was reprinted in 1640, on the
eve of the Revolution.

I pass now to a book of great political and historical interest:
_The Conference about the Succession to the Crown of England_
(1594), attributed to Doleman, but really the handiwork of
Parsons, the Jesuit, Cardinal Allen, and others. In the first
part, a civil lawyer shows at length that lineal descent and
propinquity of blood are not of themselves sufficient title to
the Crown; whilst in the second part a temporal lawyer discusses
the titles of particular claimants to the succession of Queen
Elizabeth. Among these, that of the Earl of Essex, to whom the
book was dedicated, is discussed; the object of the book being to
baffle the title of King James to the succession, and to fix it
either on Essex or the Infanta of Spain. No wonder it gave great
offence to the Queen, for it advocated also the lawfulness of
deposing her; and it throws some light on those intrigues with
the Jesuits which at one time formed so marked an incident in the
eventful career of that unfortunate earl. Great efforts were made
to suppress it, and there is a tradition that the printer was
hanged, drawn, and quartered.

The book itself has played no small part in our history, for not
only was Milton's _Defensio_ mainly taken from it, but it formed
the chief part of Bradshaw's long speech at the condemnation of
Charles I. In 1681, when Parliament was debating the subject of
the exclusion of the Duke of York from the succession, it was
thought well to reprint it; but only two years later it was among
the books which had the honour of being condemned to the flames
by the University of Oxford, in its famous and loyal book-fire
of 1683 (see p. 194).

But if the history of the book was eventful, how much more so was
that of its chief author, the famous Robert Parsons, first of
Balliol College, and then of the Order of Jesus! Parsons was a
very prince of intrigue. To say that he actually tried to
persuade Philip II. to send a second Armada; that he tried to
persuade the Earl of Derby to raise a rebellion, and then is
suspected of having poisoned him for not consenting; that he
instigated an English Jesuit to try to assassinate the Queen;
and, among other plans, wished to get the Pope and the Kings of
France and Spain to appoint a Catholic successor to Elizabeth,
and to support their nominee by an armed confederacy, is to give
but the meagre outline of his energetic career. The blacksmith's
son certainly made no small use of his time and abilities. His
life is the history in miniature of that of his order as a body;
that same body whose enormous establishments in England at this
day are in such bold defiance of the Catholic Emancipation Act,
which makes even their residence in this kingdom illegal.

Doleman's _Conference_ was answered in a little book by Peter
Wentworth, entitled _A Pithy Exhortation to Her Majesty for
establishing her Successor to the Crown_, in which the author
advocated the claims of James I. The book was written in terms of
great humility and respect, the author not being ignorant, as he
quaintly says, "that the anger of a Prince is as the roaring of a
Lyon, and even the messenger of Death." But this he was to learn
by personal experience, for the Queen, incensed with him for
venturing to advise her, not only had his book burnt, but sent
him to the Tower, where, like so many others, he died. So at
least says a printed slip in the Grenville copy of his book.

But Wentworth is better and more deservedly remembered for his
speeches than for his book--his famous speeches in 1575, and
again in 1587, in Parliament in defence of the Commons' Right of
Free Speech, for both of which he was temporarily committed to
the Tower. Rumours of what would please or displease the Queen,
or messages from the Queen, like that prohibiting the House to
interfere in matters of religion, in those days reduced the voice
of the House to a nullity. Wentworth's chief question was,
"Whether this Council be not a place for any member of the same
here assembled, freely and without control of any person or
danger of laws, by bill or speech to utter any of the griefs of
this Commonwealth whatsoever, touching the service of God, the
safety of the prince and this noble realm." Yet so servile was
the House of that period, that on both occasions it disclaimed
and condemned its advocate--on the first occasion actually not
allowing him to finish his speech. Yet, fortunately, both his
speeches live, well reported in the Parliamentary Debates.

To pass from politics to poetry; little as Archbishop Whitgift's
proceedings in the High Commission endear his name to posterity,
I am inclined to think he may be forgiven for cleansing
Stationers' Hall by fire, in 1599, of certain works purporting to
be poetical; such works, namely, as Marlowe's _Elegies of Ovid_,
which appeared in company with Davies's _Epigrammes_, Marston's
_Metamorphosis of Pigmalion's Image_, Hall's _Satires_, and
Cutwode's _Caltha Poetarum; or, The Bumble Bee_. The latter is a
fantastic poem of 187 stanzas about a bee and a marigold, and
deserved the fire rather for its insipidity than for the reasons
which justified the cleansing process applied to the others, the
youthful productions of men who were destined to attain
celebrity in very different directions of life.

Marlowe, like Shakespeare, from an actor became a writer of
plays; but though Ben Jonson extolled his "mighty muse," I doubt
whether his _Edward II._, _Dr. Faustus_, or _Jew of Malta_, are
now widely popular. Anthony Wood has left a very disagreeable
picture of Marlowe's character, which one would fain hope is
overdrawn; but the dramatist's early death in a low quarrel
prevented him from ever redeeming his early offences, as a kinder
fortune permitted to his companions in the Stationers' bonfire.

Marston came to be more distinguished for his _Satires_ than for
his plays, his _Scourge of Villainie_ being his chief title to
fame. Of his _Pigmalion_ all that can be said is, that it is not
quite so bad as Marlowe's _Elegies_. Warton justly says, with
pompous euphemism: "His stream of poetry, if sometimes bright and
unpolluted, almost always betrays a muddy bottom." But this muddy
bottom is discernible, not in Marston alone, but also in Hall's
_Virgidemiarum_, or Satires, of which Warton did all he could to
revive the popularity. Hall was Marston's rival at Cambridge, but
Hall claims to be the first English satirist. He took Juvenal for
his model, but the Latin of Juvenal seems to me far less obscure
than the English of Hall. I quote two lines to show what this
Cambridge student thought of the great Elizabethan period in
which he lived. Referring to some remote golden age, he says:--

     "Then men were men; but now the greater part
      Beasts are in life, and women are in heart."

But strange are the evolutions of men. The author of the burnt
satires rose from dignity to dignity in the Church. He became
successively Bishop of Exeter and Bishop of Norwich, and to this
day his devotional works are read by thousands who have never
heard of his satires. He was sent as a deputy to the famous Synod
of Dort, and was faithful to his Church and king through the
Civil War. For this in his old age he suffered sequestration and
imprisonment, and he lived to see his cathedral turned into a
barrack, and his palace into an ale-house, dying shortly before
the Restoration, in 1656, at the age of 82. Bayle thought him
worthy of a place in his Dictionary, but he is still worthier of
a place in our memories as one of those great English bishops
who, like Burnet, Butler, or Tillotson, never put their Church
before their humanity, but showed (what needed showing) that the
Christianity of the clergy was not of necessity synonymous with
the absolute negation of charity.

Davies, too, Marlowe's early friend, rose to fame both as a poet
and a statesman. But he began badly. He was disbarred from the
Middle Temple for breaking a club over the head of another law
student in the very dining-hall. After that he became member for
Corfe Castle, and then successively Solicitor-General and
Attorney-General for Ireland. He was knighted in 1607. One of the
best books on that unhappy country is his _Discovery of the true
causes why Ireland was never entirely subdued, nor brought under
obedience of the Crown of England until the beginning of Her
Majesty's happy reign_ (1611), dedicated to James I. His chief
poems are his _Nosce Teipsum_ and _The Orchestra_. In 1614 he was
elected for Newcastle-under-Lyme, and he died in 1626, aged only
57. Yet in that time he had travelled a long way from the days of
his early literary companionship with Christopher Marlowe.

The Church at the end of the sixteenth century assuredly aimed
high. At the time the above books were burnt, it was decreed that
no satires or epigrams should be printed in the future; and that
no plays should be printed without the inspection and permission
of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London! But
even this is nothing compared with that later attempt to subject
the Press to the Church which called forth Milton's
_Areopagitica_; there indeed soon came to be very little to
choose between the Inquisition of the High Commission and the
more noxious Inquisition of Rome.

Near to the burnt works of the previous writers must be placed
those of that prolific writer of the same period, Samuel
Rowlands. The severity of his satire, and the obviousness of the
allusions, caused two of his works to be burnt, first publicly,
and then in the hall kitchen of the Stationers' Company, in
October 1600. These were: _The Letting Humour's Blood in the
Headvein_, and, _A Merry Meeting; or, 'tis Merry when Knaves
meet_; both of which subsequently reappeared under the titles
respectively of _Humour's Ordinarie, where a man may be verie
merrie and exceeding well used for his sixpence_, and the _Knave
of Clubs_. Either work would now cost much more than sixpence,
and probably fail to make the reader very merry, or even merry at
all. One of the epigrams, however, of the first work may be
quoted as of more than ephemeral truth and interest:--

     "Who seeks to please all men each way,
        And not himself offend,
      He may begin his work to-day,
        But God knows when he'll end."

Little appears to be known of Rowlands, but, like Bishop Hall, he
could turn his pen to various purposes with great facility; for
the prayers which he is thought to have composed, and which are
published with the rest of his works in the admirable edition of
1870, are of as high an order of merit as the religious works of
his more famous contemporary.

The only wonder is that the Archbishop did not enforce the
burning of much more of the literature of the Elizabethan period,
whilst he was engaged on such a crusade. He may well, however,
have shrunk appalled from the magnitude of the task, and have
thought it better to touch the margin than do nothing at all.
And, after all, in those days a poet was lucky if they only burnt
his poems, and not himself as well. In 1619 John Williams,
barrister, was actually hanged, drawn, and quartered, for two
poems which were not even printed, but which exist in manuscript
at Cambridge to this day. These were _Balaam's Ass_ and the
_Speculum Regale_. Williams was indiscreet enough to predict the
King's death in 1621, and to send the poems secretly to his
Majesty in a box. The odd thing is that he thought himself justly
punished for his foolish freak, so very peculiar were men's
notions of justice in those far-off barbarous days.



Despite Mr. D'Israeli's able defence of him, the fashion has
survived of speaking disdainfully of James I. and all his works.
The military men of his day, hating him for that wise love of
peace which saved us at least from one war on the Continent,
complained of a king who preferred to wage war with the pen than
with the pike, and vented his anger on paper instead of with
powder. But for all that, the patron and friend of Ben Jonson,
and the constant promoter of arts and letters, was one of the
best literary workmen of his time; nor will any one who dips into
his works fail to put them aside without a considerably higher
estimate than he had before of the ability of the most learned
king that ever occupied the British throne--a monarch
unapproached by any of his successors, save William III., in any
sort of intellectual power.

Yet here our admiration for James I. must perforce stop. For of
many of his ideas the only excuse is that they were those of his
age; and this is an excuse that is fatal to a claim to the
highest order of merit. All men to some extent are the sport and
victims of their intellectual surroundings; but it is the mark of
superiority to rise above them, and this James I. often failed to
do. He cannot, for instance, in this respect compare with a man
whose works he persecuted, namely, Reginald Scot, who in 1584
published his immortal _Discoverie of Witchcraft_, a book which,
alike for its motive as its matter, occupies one of the highest
places in the history of the literature of Europe.

Yet Scot was only a Kentish country gentleman, who gave himself
up solely, says Wood, to solid reading and the perusal of obscure
but neglected authors, diversifying his studies with agriculture,
and so producing the first extant treatise on hops. Nevertheless,
he is among the heroes of the world, greater for me at least than
any one of our most famous generals, for it was at the risk of
his life that he wrote, as he says himself, "in behalf of the
poor, the aged, and the simple"; and if he has no monument in our
English Pantheon, he has a better and more abiding one in the
hearts of all the well-wishers of humanity. For his reading led
him to the assault of one of the best established, most sacred,
yet most stupid, of the superstitions of mankind; and to have
exposed both the folly of the belief, and the cruelty of the
legal punishments, of witchcraft, more justly entitles his memory
to honour than the capture of many stormed cities or the butchery
of thousands of his fellow-beings on a battlefield.

How trite is the argument that this or that belief must be true
because so many generations have believed it, so many countries,
so many famous men,--as if error, like stolen property, gained a
title from prescription of time! Scot pierced this pretension
with a single sentence: "Truth must not be measured by time, for
every old opinion is not sound." "My great adversaries," he says,
"are young ignorance and old custom. For what folly soever tract
of time hath fostered, it is so superstitiously pursued of some
as though no error could be acquainted with custom." May we not
say, indeed, that beliefs are rendered suspect by the very extent
of their currency and acceptance?

But Scot had a greater adversary than even young ignorance or old
custom; and that was King James, who, whilst King of Scotland,
wrote his _Demonologie_ against Scot's ideas (1597). James's mind
was strictly Bible-bound, and for him the disbelief in witches
savoured of Sadduceeism, or the denial of spirits. Yet Scot had
taken care to guard himself, for he wrote: "I deny not that there
are witches or images; but I detest the idolatrous opinions
conceived of them." Nor can James have carefully read Scot, for
tacked on to the _Discoverie_ is a _Discourse of Devils and
Spirits_, which to the simplest Sadducee would have been the
veriest trash. Scot, for instance, says of the devil that "God
created him purposely to destroy. I take his substance to be such
as no man can by learning define, nor by wisdom search out"; a
conclusion surely as wise as the theology is curious. Anyhow it
is the very reverse of Sadduceean. It is said that one of the
first proceedings of James's reign was to have all the copies of
Scot's book burnt that could be seized, and undoubtedly one of
the first of his Acts of Parliament was the statute that made all
the devices of witchcraft punishable with death, as felony,
without benefit of clergy.

But about the burning there is room for doubt. For there is no
English contemporary testimony of the fact. Voet, a professor of
theology in Holland, is its only known contemporary witness; but
he may have assumed the suppression of the book to have been
identical with its burning; a common assumption, but a no less
common mistake. On the other hand, many books undoubtedly were
burnt under James that are not mentioned by name; and the great
rarity of the first edition of the book, and its absence from
some of our principal libraries, support the possibility of its
having been among them.[52:1] Nevertheless, to quote Mr.
D'Israeli: "On the King's arrival in England, having discovered
the numerous impostures and illusions which he had often referred
to as authorities, he grew suspicious of the whole system of
Dæmonologie, and at length recanted it entirely. With the same
conscientious zeal James had written the book, the King condemned
it; and the sovereign separated himself from the author, in the
cause of truth; but the clergy and the Parliament persisted in
making the imaginary crime felony by the statute." So that if
James really burnt the book, he must have burnt it to please
others, not himself; and though he may have done so, the
presumption is rather that he did not.

The wonder is that Scot himself escaped the real or supposed fate
of his book. Pleasing indeed is it to know that he lived out his
days undisturbed to the end (1599) with his family and among his
hops and flowers in Kent; not, however, before he had lived to
see his book make a perceptible impression on the magistracy and
even on the clergy of his time, till a perceptible check was
given to his ideas by the _Demonologie_. But at all events he had
given superstition a reeling blow, from which it never wholly
recovered, and to which it ultimately succumbed. More than this
can few men hope to do, and to have done so much is ample cause
for contentment.

Fundamental questions of all sorts were growing critical in the
reign of James, who had not only the clearest ideas of their
answer, but the firmest determination to have them, if possible,
answered in his own way. The principal ones were: The
relationship of the King to his subjects; of the Pope to kings;
of the Established Church to Puritanism and Catholicism. And on
the leading political and religious questions of his day James
caused certain books to be burnt which advocated opinions
contrary to his own--a mode of reasoning that reflects less
credit on his philosophy than does his conduct in most other

But the first book that was burnt for its sentiments on
Prerogative was one of which the King was believed personally to
approve. This was probably the gist of its offence, for it
appeared about the time that the King made his very supercilious
speech to the Commons in answer to their complaints about the
High Commission and other grievances.

I allude to the famous _Interpreter_ (1607) by Cowell, Doctor of
Civil Law at Cambridge, which, written at the instigation of
Archbishop Bancroft, was dedicated to him, and caused a storm
little dreamt of by its author. Sir E. Coke disliked Cowell, whom
he nicknamed Cow-heel, and naturally disliked him still more for
writing slightingly of Littleton and the Common Law. He therefore
caused Parliament to take the matter up, with the result that
Cowell was imprisoned and came near to hanging;[54:1] James only
saving his life by suppressing his book by proclamation, for
which the Commons returned him thanks with great exultation over
their victory.

For Cowell had taken too strongly the high monarchical line, and
the episode of his book is really the first engagement in that
great war between Prerogative and People which raged through the
seventeenth century. "I hold it uncontrollable," he wrote, "that
the King of England is an absolute king." "Though it be a
merciful policy, and also a politic policy (not alterable without
great peril) to make laws by the consent of the whole realm . . .
yet simply to bind the prince to or by these laws were repugnant
to the nature and custom of an absolute monarchy." "For those
regalities which are of the higher nature there is not one that
belonged to the most absolute prince in the world which doth not
also belong to our King." But the book was condemned, not only
for its sins against the Subject, but also for passages that were
said to pinch on the authority of the King. Yet, considered
merely as a Law Dictionary, it is still one of the best in our

In the King's proclamation against the _Interpreter_ are some
passages that curiously illustrate the mind of its author. He
thus complains of the growing freedom of thought: "From the very
highest mysteries of the Godhead and the most inscrutable
counsels in the Trinitie to the very lowest pit of Hell and the
confused action of the divells there, there is nothing now
unsearched into by the curiositie of men's brains"; so that "it
is no wonder that they do not spare to wade in all the deepest
mysteries that belong to the persons or the state of Kinges and
Princes, that are gods upon earth." King James's attitude to Free
Thought reminds one of the legendary contention between Canute
and the sea. No one has ever repeated the latter experiment, but
how many thousands still disquiet themselves, as James did, about
or against the progress of the human mind!

In the proclamation itself there is no actual mention of burning,
all persons in possession of the book being required to deliver
their copies to the Lord Mayor or County Sheriffs "for the
further order of its utter suppression" (March 25th, 1610);
neither is there any allusion to burning in the Parliamentary
journals, nor in the letters relating to the subject in Winwood's
_Memorials_. The contemporary evidence of the fact is, however,
supplied by Sir H. Spelman, who says in his _Glossarium_ (under
the word "Tenure") that Cowell's book was publicly burnt.
Otherwise, James's proclamations were not always attended to (by
one, for instance, he prohibited hunting); and Roger Coke says
that the books being out, "the proclamation could not call them
in, but only served to make them more taken notice of."[57:1]

That books were often suppressed or called in without being
publicly burnt is well shown by Heylin's remark about Mocket's
book (presently referred to), that it was "thought fit not only
to call it in, but to expiate the errors of it in a public
flame."[57:2] Among works thus suppressed without being burnt may
be mentioned Bishop Thornborough's two books in favour of the
union between England and Scotland (1604), Lord Coke's Speech and
Charge at the Norwich Assizes (1607), and Sir W. Raleigh's first
volume of the _History of the World_ (1614). I suspect that
Scott's _Discoverie_ was likewise only suppressed, and that Voet
erroneously thought that this involved and implied a public

But it was not for long that James had saved Cowell's life, for
the latter's death the following year, and soon after the
resignation of his professorship, is said by Fuller to have been
hastened by the trouble about his book. The King throughout
behaved with great judgment, nor is it so true that he
surrendered Cowell to his enemies, as that he saved him from
imminent personal peril. Men like Cowell and Blackwood and
Bancroft were probably more monarchical than the monarch himself;
and, though James held high notions of his own powers, and could
even hint at being a god upon earth, his subjects were far more
ready to accept his divinity than he was to force it upon them.
It was not quite for nothing that James had had for his tutor the
republican George Buchanan, one of the first opponents of
monarchical absolutism in his famous _De Jure Regni apud Scotos_;
nor did he ever quite forget the noble words in which at his
first Parliament he thus defined for ever the position of a
constitutional king: "That I am a servant it is most true, that
as I am head and governor of all the people in my dominion who
are my natural vassals and subjects, considering them in numbers
and distinct ranks: so, if we will take the whole people as one
body and mass, then, as the head is ordained for the body and not
the body for the head, so must a righteous king know himself to
be ordained for his people and not his people for him. . . . _I
will never be ashamed to confess it my principal honour to be the
great servant of the Commonwealth._"

And in this very matter of Cowell's book James not only denied
any preference for the civil over the common law, but professed
"that, although he knew how great and large a king's rights and
prerogatives were, yet that he would never affect nor seek to
extend his beyond the prescription and limits of the municipal
laws and customs of this realm."[59:1]

A few years later Sir Walter Raleigh's first volume of his
_History of the World_ was called in at the King's command,
"especially for being too saucy in censuring princes." This fate
its wonderful author took greatly to heart, as he had hoped
thereby to please the King extraordinarily;[59:2] and,
considering the terms wherewith in his preface he pointed the
contrast between James and our previous rulers, one cannot but
share his astonishment.

This would seem to indicate that the King grew more sensitive
about his position as time went on; and this conclusion is
corroborated by his extraordinary conduct in reference to the
works of David Paræus, the learned Protestant Professor of
Divinity at Heidelberg. One can conceive no mortal soul ever
reading those three vast folios of closely printed Latin in which
Paræus commented on the Old and New Testament; but in those days
people must have read everything. At all events, it was
discovered that in his commentary on Romans xiii. Paræus had
contended at great length and detail in favour of the people's
right to restrain, even by force of arms, tyrannical violence on
the part of the superior magistrate. On March 22nd, 1622,
therefore, the Archbishop of Canterbury and twelve bishops, at
the King's request, represented this doctrine to be most
dangerous and seditious; and accordingly, on July 1st, the books
of Paræus were publicly burnt after a sermon by the Bishop of
London; and about the same time the Universities of Oxford and
Cambridge, ever on the side of the divine right, proved their
loyalty by condemning and burning the book, perhaps the only book
whose condemnation never tempted to its perusal. But that very
same year (August 22nd, 1622) the King found it necessary to
issue directions concerning preaching and preachers, so freely
was the Puritanical side of the community then beginning to
express itself about the royal prerogative.

As connected with the question of the prerogative must be
mentioned, as burnt by James' order, the _Doctrina et Politia
Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ_ (1616), a Latin translation of the English
Prayer Book, as well as of Jewell's _Apology_ and Newell's
_Catechism_, by Richard Mocket, then Warden of All Souls'. Mocket
was chaplain to Archbishop Abbot, and wished to recommend the
formularies and doctrines of the Church of England to foreign
nations. History does not, indeed, record any deep impression as
made on foreign nations by the book; though Heylin asserts that
it had given no small reputation to the Church of England beyond
the seas (_Laud_, 70); but it does record the fact of its being
publicly burnt, as well as give some intimations of the reason.
Fuller says that the main objection to it was, that Mocket had
proved himself a better chaplain than subject, touching James in
one of his tenderest points in contending for the right of the
Archbishop of Canterbury to confirm the election of bishops in
his province. Mocket also gave such extracts from the Homilies as
seemed to have a Calvinistic leaning; and treated fast days as
only of political institution. For such reasons the book was
burnt by public edict, a censure which the writer took so much to
heart that, as Fuller says, being "so much defeated in his
expectation to find punishment where he looked for preferment, as
if his life were bound up by sympathy in his book, he ended his
days soon after." Poor Mocket was only forty when he died,
succumbing, like Cowell, to the rough reception accorded to his

Mocket's book is less one to read than to treasure as a sort of
_lusus naturæ_ in the literary world; for it would certainly have
seemed safe antecedently to wager a million to one that no Warden
of All Souls' would ever write a book that would be subjected to
the indignity of fire; and, in spite of his example, I would
still wager a million to one that a similar fate will never
befall any literary work of Mocket's successors. Mocket's book,
therefore, has a certain distinction which is all its own; but
those who do not love the Church of England without it will
hardly be led to such love by reading Mocket. And Mocket himself,
if we follow Fuller, seems to have wished to make his love for
the Church a vehicle to his own preferment; but as, perhaps, in
that respect he does not stand alone, I should be sorry that the
implied reproach should rest as any stain upon his memory.

Next to the question of the rights of kings over their subjects,
the most important one of that time was concerning the rights of
popes over kings--a question which, having been intensified by
the Reformation, naturally came to a crisis after the Gunpowder
Plot. James I. then instituted an oath of allegiance as a test of
Catholic loyalty, and many Catholics took the oath without
scruple, including the Archpriest Blackwell. Cardinal Bellarmine
thereupon wrote a letter of rebuke to the latter, and Pope Paul
V. sent a brief forbidding Catholics either to take the oath or
to attend Protestant churches (October 1606). But it is
remarkable that, so little did the Catholics believe in the
authenticity of this brief, another--and an angry one--had to
come from Rome the following September, to confirm and enforce
it. King James very fairly took umbrage at the action and claims
of the Pope, and spent six days in making notes which he wished
the Bishop of Winchester to use in a reply to the Pope and the
Cardinal. But when the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of
Ely saw the King's notes, they thought them answer enough, and so
James's _Apology for the Oath of Allegiance_ came to light, but
without his name, the author, among other reasons, deeming it
beneath his dignity to contend in argument with a cardinal. As
the Cardinal responded, the King took a stronger measure, and
under his own name wrote, in a single week, his _Premonition to
all most Mighty Monarch_, wherein he exposed with great force the
danger to all states from the pretensions of the Papacy.
Thereupon, at Paul's invitation, Suarez penned that vast folio
(778 pp.), the _Defensio Catholicæ Fidei contra Anglicanæ Sectæ
Errores_ (1613), as a counterblast to James's _Apology_.
Considering the subject, it was certainly written with singular
moderation; and James would have done better to have left the
book to the natural penalty of its immense bulk. As it was, he
ordered it to be burnt at London, and at Oxford and Cambridge;
forbade his subjects to read it, under severe penalties; and
wrote to Philip III. of Spain to complain of his Jesuit subject.
But Philip, of course, only expressed his sympathy with Suarez,
and exhorted James to return to the Faith. The Parlement of Paris
also consigned the book to the flames in 1614, as it had a few
years before Bellarmine's _Tractatus de Potestate summi
Pontificis in Temporalibus_, in which the same high pretensions
were claimed for the Pope as were claimed by Suarez.

The question at issue remains, of course, a burning one to this
day. To James I., however, is due the credit of having been one
of the earliest and ablest champions against the Temporal Power;
and therefore side by side on our shelves with Bellarmine and
Suarez should stand copies of the _Apology_ and the
_Premonition_--both of them works which can scarcely fail to
raise the King many degrees in the estimation of all who read

But we have yet to see James as a theologian, for on his divinity
he prided himself no less than on his king-craft. The burnings of
Legatt at Smithfield and of Wightman at Lichfield for heretical
opinions are sad blots on the King's memory; for it would seem
that he personally pressed the bishops to proceed to this
extremity, in the case of Legatt at least. Nor in the case of
poor Conrad Vorst did he manifest more toleration or dignity. It
was no concern of his if Vorst was appointed by the States to
succeed Arminius as Professor of Theology at Leyden; yet, deeming
his duty as Defender of the Faith to be bound by no seas, he
actually interfered to prevent it, and rendered Vorst's life a
burden to him, when he might just as reasonably have protested
against the choice of a Grand Lama of Thibet.

Vorst's book--the _Tractatus Theologicus de Deo_, an ugly,
square, brown book of five hundred pages--is as unreadable as it
is unprepossessing. Bayle says that it was shown to the King
whilst out hunting, and that he forthwith read it with such
energy as to be able to despatch within an hour to his resident
at the Hague a detailed list of its heresies. Nothing in his
reign seems to have excited him so much. Not only did he have it
publicly burnt in St. Paul's Churchyard (October 1611), and at
Oxford and Cambridge, but he entreated the States, under the pain
of the loss of his friendship, to banish Vorst from their
dominions altogether. No heretic, he said, ever better deserved
to be burnt, but that he would leave to their Christian wisdom.
"Such a Disquisition deserved the punishment of the Inquisition."
If Vorst remained, no English youths should repair to "so
infected a place" as the University of Leyden.

The States resented at first the interference of the King of
England, and supported Vorst, but the ultimate result of James's
prolonged agitation was that in 1619 the National Synod of Dort
declared Vorst's works to be impious and blasphemous, and their
author unworthy to be an orthodox professor. He was accordingly
banished from the University and from Holland for life, and died
three years afterwards, fully justified by his persecution in his
original reluctance to exchange his country living for the
dignity of a professorship of theology.

Bayle thinks he was fairly chargeable with Socinian views, but
what most offended James was his metaphysical speculations on the
Divine attributes. I will quote from Vorst two passages which
vexed the royal soul, and should teach us to rejoice that the
reign of such discussions shows signs of passing away:--

     "Is there a quantity in God?
      There is; but not a physical quantity,
      But a supernatural quantity;
      One nevertheless that is plainly imperceptible to us,
      And merely spiritual."

Or again:--

"Hath God a body? If we will speak properly, He has none; yet is
it no absurdity, speaking improperly, to ascribe a body unto God,
that is, as the word is taken improperly and generally (and yet
not very absurdly) for a true substance, in a large
signification, or, if you will, abusive."

The above are the principal books whose names have come down to
us as burnt in the reign of James, and the initiation of such
burning seems always to have come from the King himself. As yet,
the Star Chamber and Court of High Commission do not appear to
have assumed the direction of this lesser but not unimportant
department of government. Nor is there yet any mention of the
hangman: the mere burning by any menial official being, thought
stigma enough. It is also remarkable that the books which chiefly
roused James's anger to the burning point were the works of
foreigners--of Paræus, Suarez, and Vorst. After James our country
was too much occupied in burning its own books and pamphlets to
burden itself with the additional labour of burning its
neighbours'; the instances that occur are comparatively few and
far between. But it is clear that, whatever were James's real
views as to the limits of his political prerogative, in the field
of literature he meant to play and did play the despot. Pity that
one who could so deftly wield his pen should have rested his
final argument on the bonfire!


[52:1] That is Dr. Brinsley Nicholson's conclusion in his preface
to Scot; yet, if the book was burnt, it is highly improbable that
the common hangman officiated.

[54:1] Winwood's _Memorials_, I. 125.

[57:1] _Detection of Court and State of England_ (1696), I. 30.

[57:2] _Life of Laud_, 70.

[59:1] Winwood's _Memorials_, III. 136.

[59:2] Letter of January 5th, 1614, in _Court and Times of James



Few things now seem more surprising than the sort of fury with
which in the earlier part of the seventeenth century the extreme
rights of monarchs were advocated by large numbers of Englishmen.
Political servitude was then the favourite dream of thousands.
The Church made herself especially prominent on the side of
prerogative; the pulpits resounded with what our ancestors called
Crown Divinity; and in the reign of Charles I. the rival
principles, ultimately fought for on the battlefield, first came
into conflict over sermons, the immediate cause, indeed, of so
many of the greatest political movements of our history.

The first episode in this connection is the important case of Dr.
Roger Manwaring, one of Charles's chaplains, who, at the time
when the King was pressing for a compulsory loan, preached two
sermons before him, advocating the King's right to impose any
loan or tax without consent of Parliament, and, in fact, making a
clean sweep of all the liberties of the subject whatsoever. At
Charles's request, Manwaring published these sermons under the
title of _Religion and Allegiance_ (1627). But the popular party
in Parliament resolved to make an example of him, and a long
speech on the subject by Pym is preserved in Rushworth. The
Commons begged the Lords to pronounce judgment upon him, and a
most severe one they did pronounce. He was to be imprisoned
during the House's pleasure; to be fined £1000 to the King; to
make a written submission at the bars of both Houses; to be
suspended for three years; to be disabled from ever preaching at
Court, or holding any ecclesiastical or secular office; and the
King was to be moved to grant a proclamation for calling in and
burning his book.

On June 23rd, 1628, Manwaring made accordingly a most abject
submission at the bars of both Houses, Heylin says, on his knees
and with tears in his eyes, confessing his sermons to have been
"full of dangerous passages, inferences, and scandalous
aspersions in most parts"; and the next day Charles issued a
proclamation for calling them in, as having incurred "the just
censure and sentence of the High Court of Parliament." The
sentence of suppression presumably in this case carried the
burning; but, if so, there is no mention of any public burning by
the bishops and others, to whom the books were to be delivered by
their owners.

Fuller says that much of Manwaring's sentence was remitted in
consideration of his humble submission; and Charles the very same
year not only pardoned him, but gave him ecclesiastical
preferment, finally making him Bishop of St. David's. Heylin
attests the resentment this indiscreet indulgence roused in the
Commons; but, unfortunately, as Manwaring was doubtless well
aware, to have incurred the anger of Parliament was motive enough
with Charles for the preferment of the offender, and the shortest
road to it.

This is shown by the similar treatment accorded to the Rev.
Richard Montagu, who had made himself conspicuous on the
anti-Puritan side in the time of James. In defence of himself he
had written his _Appello Cæsarem_, with James's leave and
encouragement. It was a long book, refuting the charges made
against him of Popery and Arminianism, and full of bitter
invectives against the Puritans. After the matter had been long
under the consideration of Parliament, the House prayed Charles
to punish Montagu, and to suppress and burn his books; and this
Charles did in a remarkable proclamation (January 17th, 1628),
wherein the _Appello Cæsarem_ is admitted to have been _the first
cause of those disputes and differences that have since much
troubled the quiet of the Church_, and is therefore called in,
Charles adding, that if others write again on the subject, "we
shall take such order with them and those books that they shall
wish they had never thought upon these needless controversies."
It appears, however, from Rushworth that, in spite of this,
several answers were penned to Montagu, and that they were
suppressed. And what, indeed, would life be but for its "needless

Nothing could be more praiseworthy than Charles's attempt to put
a stop to the idle disputations and bitter recriminations of the
combatants on either side of religious controversy. Could he have
succeeded he might have staved off the Civil War, which we might
almost more fitly call a religious one. But in those days few
men, unfortunately, had the cool wisdom to remain as neutral
between Arminian and Calvinist, Papist and Protestant, as between
the rival Egyptian sects which, in Juvenal's time, fought for the
worship of the ibis or the crocodile. Our comparatively greater
safety in these days is due to the large increase of that neutral
party, which was so sadly insignificant in the time of Charles.
May that party therefore never become less, but constantly grow

Montagu, at the time of the proclamation of his book, had been
appointed Bishop of Chichester, having been raised to that see in
spite or because of his quarrel with Parliament. He was
consecrated by Laud in August of the same year, and Heylin admits
that his promotion was more magnanimous than safe on the part of
Charles, being clearly calculated to exasperate the House. Ten
years later (1638) he was preferred to the see of Norwich. All
his life he remained a prominent member of the Romanising party.

These books of Manwaring and Montagu are important as proving
clearly two historical points, viz.:--(1) The early date at which
the Court party alienated even the House of Lords. (2) The fact
that the original exciting cause of all the subsequent discord
between Puritan and Prelatist came from a prominent member of the
Laudian or Romanising faction.

The rising temper of the people, and its justification, is shown
even in these literary disputes. But the popular temper was
destined to be more seriously roused by those atrocious sentences
against the authors of certain books which were passed within a
few years by the Star Chamber and High Commission. The heavy
fines and cruel mutilations imposed by these courts were not new
in the reign of Charles, but they became far more frequent, and
were directed less against wrong conduct than disagreeable
opinions. They are intimately connected with the memory of Laud,
first as Bishop of London, and then as Archbishop of Canterbury,
whose letters show that the severities in question were to him
and Strafford (to use Hallam's expression) "the feebleness of
excessive lenity." To the last Charles was not despotic enough to
please Laud, who complains petulantly in his Diary of a prince
"who knew not how to be, or be made great."

As the first illustration of Laud's method for attaining this end
must be mentioned the case of a book which enjoys the distinction
of having brought its author to a more severe punishment than
any other book in the English language. Our literature has had
many a martyr, but Alexander Leighton is the foremost of the

He was a Scotch divine; nor can it be denied that his _Syon's
Plea against the Prelacy_ (1628) contained, indeed, some bitter
things against the bishops; he said they were of no use in God's
house, and called them caterpillars, moths, and cankerworms. But
our ancestors habitually indulged in such expressions; and even
Tyndale, the martyr, called church functionaries horse-leeches,
maggots, and caterpillars in a kingdom. Such terms were among the
traditional amenities of all controversy, but especially of
religious controversy. But since the Martin-Marprelate Tracts or
Latimer's sermons the strong anti-Episcopalian feeling of the
country had never expressed itself so vigorously as in this
"decade of grievances" against the hierarchy, presented to
Parliament by a man who was too sensitive of "the ruin of
religion and the sinking of the State."

The Star Chamber fined him £10,000, and then the High Commission
Court deprived him of his ministry, and sentenced him to be
whipped, to be pilloried, to lose his ears, to have his nose
slit, to be branded on his cheeks with "S. S." (Sower of
Sedition), and to be imprisoned for life! Probably with all this,
the burning of his book went without saying; though I have found
no specific mention of its incurring that fate.

The sentence was executed in November 1630, in frost and snow,
making its victim, as he says himself, "a theatre of misery to
men and angels." It was all done in the name of law and order,
like all the other great atrocities of history. After ten years'
imprisonment Leighton was released by the Long Parliament, and a
few years later he wrote an account of his sufferings, and a
report of his trial in the Star Chamber. Therein we learn that
Laud, the Bishop of London, was the moving spirit of the whole
thing. At the end of his speech he apologised for his presence at
the trial, admitting that by the Canon law no ecclesiastic might
be present at a judicature where loss of life or limb was
incurred, but contending that there was no such loss in
ear-cutting, nose-slitting, branding, and whipping. Leighton, of
course, may have been misinformed of what occurred at his trial
(for he himself was not allowed to be present!); and so some
doubt must also attach to the story that when the censure was
delivered "the Prelate off with his cap, and holding up his
hands gave thanks to God who had given him the victory over his

Shortly after his release, Leighton was made keeper of Lambeth
Palace, and then he died, "rather insane of mind for the
hardships he had suffered"; but, such is the irony of fate, the
man who had paid so heavily for his antipathy to bishops became
himself the father of an archbishop!

By an unexplained law of our nature the very severity of
punishment seems to invite men to incur it; and Leighton's fate,
like most penal warnings, rather incited to its imitation than
deterred from it. The next to feel the grip of the Star Chamber
was the famous William Prynne, barrister of Lincoln's Inn, and
one of the most erudite as well as most voluminous writers our
country has ever produced.

He was only thirty-three when in 1633 he published his
_Histriomastix; or, the Player's Scourge_. His labour had taken
him seven years, nor was it the first work of his that had
attracted the notice of authority. In a thousand closely printed
pages, he argued, by an appeal to fifty-five councils,
seventy-one fathers and Christian writers, one hundred and fifty
Protestant and Catholic authors, and forty heathen philosophers
into the bargain, that stage-plays, besides being sinful and
heathenish, were "intolerable mischiefs to churches, to
republics, to the manners, minds, and souls of men." Little as we
think so now, this opinion, which was afterwards also Defoe's,
was not without justification in those days. But Prynne's crusade
did not stop at theatres; and Heylin's account reveals the
feeling of contemporaries: "Neither the hospitality of the gentry
in the time of Christmas, nor the music in cathedrals and the
chapels royal, nor the pomps and gallantries of the Court, nor
the Queen's harmless recreations, nor the King's solacing himself
sometimes in masques and dances could escape the venom of his
pen." "He seemed to breathe nothing but disgrace to the nation,
infamy to the Church, reproaches to the Court, dishonour to the
Queen." For his remarks against female actors were thought to be
aimed at Henrietta Maria, though the pastoral in which she took
part was posterior by six weeks to the publication of the
book![78:1] The four legal societies "presented their Majesties
with a pompous and magnificent masque, to let them see that
Prynne's leaven had not soured them all, and that they were not
poisoned with the same infection."[79:1]

This surely might have been enough; but by the time the matter
had come before the Star Chamber, Laud had succeeded Abbot (with
whom Prynne was on friendly terms) as Archbishop of Canterbury
(August 1633); and Laud was in favour of rigorous measures. So
was Lord Dorset, and Lord Cottington, Chancellor of the
Exchequer, whose judgment is of importance as showing that this
was really the first occasion when the hangman's services were
called in aid for the suppression of books:--

"I do in the first place begin censure with his book. I condemn
it to be burnt in the most public manner that can be. The manner
in other countries is (where such books are) to be burnt by the
hangman, though not used in England (yet I wish it may, in
respect of the strangeness and heinousness of the matter
contained in it) to have a strange manner of burning; therefore I
shall desire it may be so burnt by the hand of the hangman. If
it may agree with the Court, I do adjudge Mr. Prynne to be put
from the Bar, and to be for ever uncapable of his profession. I
do adjudge him, my Lords, that the Society of Lincoln's Inn do
put him out of the Society; and because he had his offspring from
Oxford" (now with a low voice said the Archbishop of Canterbury,
"I am sorry that ever Oxford bred such an evil member") "there to
be degraded. And I do condemn Mr. Prynne to stand in the pillory
in two places, in Westminster and Cheapside, and that he shall
lose both his ears, one in each place; and with a paper on his
head declaring how foul an offence it is, viz. that it is for an
infamous libel against both their Majesties, State and
Government. And lastly (nay, not lastly) I do condemn him in
£5,000 fine to the King. And lastly, perpetual

In this spirit the highest in the land understood justice in
those golden monarchical days, little recking of the retribution
that their cruelty was laying in store for them. A few years
later history presents us with another graphic picture of the
same sort, showing us the facetious as well as the ferocious
aspect of the Star Chamber. Again Prynne stands before his
judges, a full court (and theoretically the Star Chamber was
co-extensive with the House of Lords), but this time in company
with Bastwick, the physician, and Burton, the divine. Sir J.
Finch, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, says: "I had thought
Mr. Prynne had had no ears, but methinks he hath ears." Thereupon
many Lords look more closely at him, and the usher of the court
is ordered to turn up his hair and show his ears. Their Lordships
are displeased that no more had been cut off on the previous
occasion, and "cast out some disgraceful words of him." To whom
Prynne replies: "My Lords, there is never a one of your Honours
but would be sorry to have your ears as mine are." The
Lord-Keeper says: "In good truth he is somewhat saucy." "I hope,"
says Prynne, "your Honours will not be offended. I pray God give
you ears to hear."

The whole of this interesting trial is best read in the fourth
volume of the _Harleian Miscellany_. Prynne's main offence on
this occasion was his _News from Ipswich_, written in prison, and
his sentence was preceded by a speech from Laud, which the King
made him afterwards publish, and which, after a denial of the
Puritan charge of making innovations in religion, ended with the
words: "Because the business hath some reflection upon myself I
shall forbear to censure them, and leave them to God's mercy and
the King's justice." Yet Laud in the very previous sentence had
thanked his colleagues for the "just and honourable censure" they
had passed; and when he spoke in this Pharisaical way of God's
mercy and the King's justice, he knew that the said justice had
condemned Prynne to be fined another £5,000, to be deprived of
the remainder of his ears in the pillory, to be branded on both
cheeks with "S. L." (Schismatical Libeller), and to be imprisoned
for life in Carnarvon Castle.[82:1] Apart from that, Laud's
defence seems conclusive on many of the points brought against

Bastwick and Burton were at the same time, for their books,
condemned to a fine of £5,000 each, to be pilloried, to lose
their ears, and to be imprisoned, one at Launceston Castle, in
Cornwall, and the other in Lancaster Castle. It does not appear
that the burning of their books was on this occasion included in
the sentence; but as the order for seizing libellous books was
sometimes a separate matter from the sentence itself (Laud's
_Hist._, 252), or could be ordered by the Archbishop alone, one
may feel fairly sure that it followed.

The execution of this sentence (June 30th, 1637) marks a
turning-point in our history. The people strewed the way from the
prison to the pillory with sweet herbs. From the pillory the
prisoners severally addressed the sympathetic crowd, Bastwick,
for instance, saying, "Had I as much blood as would swell the
Thames, I would shed it every drop in this cause." Prynne,
returning to prison by boat, actually made two Latin verses on
the letters branded on his cheeks, with a pun upon Laud's name.
As probably no one ever made verses on such an occasion before or
since, they are deserving of quotation:--

     "Stigmata maxillis referens insignia Laudis,
        Exultans remeo, victima grata Deo."

Their journey to their several prisons was a triumphal procession
all the way; the people, as Heylin reluctantly writes, "either
foolishly or factiously resorting to them as they passed, and
seeming to bemoan their sufferings as unjustly rigorous. And such
a haunt there was to the several castles to which they were
condemned . . . that the State found it necessary to remove them
further," Prynne to Jersey, Burton to Guernsey, and Bastwick to
Scilly. The alarm of the Government at the resentment they had
aroused by their cruelties is as conspicuous as that resentment
itself. No English Government has ever with impunity incurred the
charge of cruelty; nor is anything clearer than that as these
atrocious sentences justified the coming Revolution, so they were
among its most immediate causes.

The _Letany_, for which Bastwick was punished on this occasion,
was not the first work of his that had brought him to trouble.
His first work, the _Elenchus Papisticæ Religionis_ (1627),
against the Jesuits, was brought before the High Commission at
the same time with his _Flagellum Pontificis_ (1635), a work
which, ostensibly directed against the Pope's temporal power,
aimed, in Laud's eyes, at English Episcopacy and the Church of
England. The sting occurs near the end, where the author contends
that the essentials of a bishop, namely, his election by his
flock and the proper discharge of episcopal duties, are wanting
in the bishops of his time. "Where is the ministering of doctrine
and of the Word, and of the Sacraments? Where is the care of
discipline and morals? Where is the consolation of the poor?
where the rebuke of the wicked? Alas for the fall of Rome! Alas
for the ruin of a flourishing Church! The bishops are neither
chosen nor called; but by canvassing, and by money, and by wicked
arts they are thrust upon their government." This was the
beginning of trouble. The Court of High Commission condemned both
his books to be burnt,[85:1] and their author to be fined £1,000,
to be excommunicated, to be debarred from his profession, and to
be imprisoned in the Gatehouse till he recanted; which, wrote
Bastwick, would not be till Doomsday, in the afternoon.

In the Gatehouse Bastwick penned his _Apologeticus ad Præsules
Anglicanos_, and his _Letany_, the books for which he suffered,
as above described, at the hands of the Star Chamber. The first
was an attack on the High Commission, the second on the bishops,
the Real Presence, and the Church Prayer Book. The language of
the _Letany_ is in many passages extremely coarse, and it is only
possible to quote such milder expressions as since the time of
Tyndale had been traditional in the Puritan party. "As many
prelates in England, so many vipers in the bowels of Church and
State." They were "the very polecats, stoats, weasels, and
minivers in the warren of Church and State." They were
"Antichrist's little toes." To judge from these expressions
merely one might be disposed to agree with Heylin, who says of
the _Letany_ that it was "so silly and contemptible that nothing
but the sin and malice which appeared in every line of it could
have possibly preserved it from being ridiculous." But the
_Letany_ is really a most important contribution to the history
of the period. Nothing is more graphic than Bastwick's account of
the almost regal reverence claimed for the Archbishop of
Canterbury, the traffic of the streets interrupted when he issued
from Lambeth, the overturning of the stalls; the author's
description of the excessive power of the bishops, of the
extortions of the ecclesiastical courts, is corroborated by
abundant correlative testimony; and he appeals for the truth of
his charges of immorality against the clergy of that time to the
actual cases that came before the High Commission.

Lord Clarendon speaks of Bastwick as "a half-witted,
crack-brained fellow," unknown to either University or the
College of Physicians; perhaps it was because he was unknown to
either University that he acquired that splendid Latin style to
which even Lord Clarendon does justice. The Latin preface to the
second edition of the _Flagellum_, in which Bastwick returns
thanks to the Long Parliament for his release from prison, is
unsurpassed by the Latin writing of the best English scholars,
and bespeaks anything but a half-witted brain. Cicero himself
could hardly have done it better.

Burton's book, however, was considered worse than Prynne's or
Bastwick's, for Heylin calls it "the great masterpiece of
mischief." It consists of two sermons, republished with an appeal
to the King, under the title of _For God and King_. Like
Bastwick, he writes in the interest of the King against the
encroachments of the bishops; and complains bitterly of the
ecclesiastical innovations then in vogue. His accusation is no
less forcible, though less well known, than Laud's Defence in his
Star Chamber speech; and if he did call the bishops "limbs of the
Beast," "ravening wolves," and so forth, the language of Laud's
party against the Puritans was not one whit more refined. So
convinced was Burton of the justice of his cause, that he
declared that all the time he stood in the pillory he thought
himself "in heaven, and in a state of glory and triumph if any
such state can possibly be on earth."

It is in connection with Bastwick's _Letany_ and Prynne's _News
from Ipswich_ that Lilburne, of subsequent revolutionary fame,
first appears on the stage of history, as responsible for their
printing in Holland and dispersion in England. At all events he
was punished for that offence, being whipped with great severity,
by order of the Star Chamber, all the way from the Fleet Prison
to Westminster, where he stood for some hours in the pillory. He
was then only twenty. Laud had the second instalment of the books
seized upon landing, and then burnt.

In this matter of book-burning the Archbishop seems at that time
to have had sole authority, and doubtless many more books met
with a fiery fate than are specifically mentioned. Laud himself
refers in a letter to an order he issued for the seizure and
public burning in Smithfield of as many copies as could be found
of an English translation of St. Francis de Sales' _Praxis
Spiritualis; or, The Introduction to a Devout Life_, which, after
having been licensed by his chaplain, had been tampered with, in
the Roman Catholic interest, in its passage through the press. Of
this curious book some twelve hundred copies were burnt, but a
few hundred copies had been dispersed before the seizure.

The Archbishop's duties, as general superintendent of literature
and the press, constituted, indeed, no sinecure. For ever since
the year 1585, the Star Chamber regulations, passed at Archbishop
Whitgift's instigation, had been in force; and, with unimportant
exceptions, no book could be printed without being first seen,
perused, and allowed by the Archbishop of Canterbury or Bishop of
London. Rome herself had no more potent device for the
maintenance of intellectual tyranny. The task of perusal was
generally deputed to the Archbishop's chaplain, who, as in the
case of Prynne's _Histriomastix_, ran the risk of a fine and the
pillory if he suffered a book to be licensed without a careful
study of its contents.

But the powers of the Archbishop over the press were not yet
enough for Laud, and in July 1637 the Star Chamber passed a
decree, with a view to prevent English books from being printed
abroad, that in addition to the compulsory licensing of all
English books by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop of London,
or the University Chancellors, no books should be imported from
abroad for sale without a catalogue of them being first sent to
the Archbishop of Canterbury or Bishop of London, who, by their
chaplains or others, were to superintend the unlading of such
packages of books. The only merit of this decree is that it led
Milton to write his _Areopagitica_. The Puritan belief that Laud
aimed at the restoration of Popery has long since been proved
erroneous. One of his bad dreams recorded in his Diary is that of
his reconciliation with the Church of Rome; but there is abundant
proof that he and his faction aimed at a spiritual and
intellectual tyranny which would in no wise have been preferable
to that of Rome. And of all Laud's dreams, surely that of the
Archbishop of Canterbury exercising a perpetual dictatorship over
English literature is not the least absurd and grotesque.

Moreover, in August of this very same year Laud made another move
in the direction of ecclesiastical tyranny. Bastwick and his
party had contended, not only that Episcopacy was not of Divine
institution, or _jure divino_ (as, indeed, Williams, Bishop of
Lincoln, had argued before the King)[91:1]; but that the issuing
of processes in the names and with the seals of the bishops in
the ecclesiastical courts was a trespass on the Royal
Prerogative. What happened proves that it was. The statute of
Edward VI. (1 Ed. VI., c. 2) had enacted that all the proceedings
of the ecclesiastical courts should "be made in the name and the
style of the King," and that no other seal of jurisdiction should
be used but with the Royal arms engraven, under penalty of
imprisonment. Mary repealed this Act, nor did Elizabeth replace
it. But a clause in a statute of James (1 Jac. I., c. 25)
repealed the repealing Act of Mary, so that the Act of Edward
came back into force; and Bastwick was perfectly right. The
judges, nevertheless, in May 1637, decided that Mary's repeal Act
was still in force; and Charles, at Laud's instigation, issued a
proclamation, in August 1637, to the effect that the proceedings
of the High Commission and other ecclesiastical courts were
agreeable to the laws and statutes of the realm.[91:2] In this
manner did the judges, the bishops, and the King conspire to
subject Englishmen to the tyranny of the Church!

The consequences belong to general history. Never was scheme of
ecclesiastical ambition more completely shattered than Laud's;
never was historical retribution more condign. Among the first
acts of the Long Parliament (November 1640) was the release of
Prynne and Bastwick and Burton; who were brought into the City,
says Clarendon, by a crowd of some ten thousand persons, with
boughs and flowers in their hands. Compensation was subsequently
voted to them for the iniquitous fines imposed on them by the
Star Chamber, and Prynne before long was one of the chief
instruments in bringing Laud to trial and the block. But this was
not before that ambitious prelate had seen the bishops deprived
of their seats in the House of Lords, and the Root and Branch
Bill for their abolition introduced, as well as the Star Chamber
and High Commission Courts abolished. This should have been
enough; and it is to be regretted that his punishment went beyond
this total failure of the schemes of his life.

Of the heroes of the books whose condemnation contributed so much
to bring about the Revolution, only Prynne continued to figure
as an object of interest in the subsequent stormy times. As a
member of Parliament his political activity was only exceeded by
his extraordinary literary productiveness; his legacy to the
Library of Lincoln's Inn of his forty volumes of various works is
probably the largest monument of literary labour ever produced by
one man. His spirit of independence caused him to be constant to
no political party, and after taking part against Cromwell he was
made by the Government of the Restoration Keeper of the Records
in the Tower, in which congenial post he finished his eventful


[78:1] Whitelock's _Memorials of Charles I._, 1822. Laud is
represented as mainly instrumental in the conduct of the whole of
this nefarious proceeding, especially in procuring the sentence
in the Star Chamber.

[79:1] _Life of Laud_, 294.

[80:1] From the account in the _State Trials_, III. 576.

[82:1] In his defence he says that he always voted last or last
but one. In that case he must always have heard the sentence
passed by those who spoke before him, and not dissented from it.
His sole excuse is, that he was no worse than his colleagues; to
which the answer is, he ought to have been better.

[85:1] Prynne, _New Discovery_, 132.

[91:1] Laud's _Diary_ (Newman's edition), 87.

[91:2] Heylin's _Laud_, 321, 322.



With the beneficent Revolution that practically began with the
Long Parliament in November 1640, and put an end to the Star
Chamber and High Commission, it might have been hoped that a
better time was about to dawn for books. But the control of
thought really only passed from the Monarchical to the
Presbyterian party; and if authors no longer incurred the
atrocious cruelties of the Star Chamber, their works were more
freely burnt at the order of Parliament than they appear to have
been when the sentence to such a fate rested with the King or the
Archbishop of Canterbury.

Parliament, in fact, assumed the dictatorship of literature, and
exercised supreme jurisdiction over author, printer, publisher,
and licenser. Either House separately, or both concurrently,
assumed the exercise of this power; and, if a book were sentenced
to be burnt, the hangman seems always to have been called in
aid. In an age which was pre-eminently the age of pamphlets, and
torn in pieces by religious and political dissension, the number
of pamphlets that were condemned to be burnt by the common
hangman was naturally legion, though, of course, a still greater
number escaped with some lesser form of censure. It is only with
the former that I propose to deal, and only with such of them as
seem of more than usual interest as illustrating the manners and
thoughts of that turbulent time.

It is a significant fact that the first writer whose works
incurred the wrath of Parliament was the Rev. John Pocklington,
D.D., one of the foremost innovators in the Church in the days of
Laud's prosperity. The House of Lords consigned two of his books
to be burnt by the hangman, both in London and the two chief
Universities (February 12th, 1641). These were his _Sunday no
Sabbath_, and the _Altare Christianum_.

The first of these was originally a sermon, preached on August
17th, 1635, wherein the Puritan view of Sunday was vehemently
assailed, and the Puritans themselves vigorously abused. "These
Church Schismatics are the most gross, nay, the most transparent
hypocrites and the most void of conscience of all others. They
will take the benefit of the Church, but abjure the doctrine and
discipline of the Church." How often has not this argument done
duty since against Pocklington's ecclesiastical descendants! But
it is to be historically regretted that Pocklington's views of
Sunday, the same of course as those of James the First's famous
book, or Declaration of Sports, were not destined to prevail, and
seem still as far as ever from attainment.

The _Altare Christianum_ had been published in 1637, in answer to
certain books by Burton and Prynne, its object being to prove
that altars and churches had existed before the Christian Church
was 200 years old. But had these churches any more substantial
existence than that one built, as he says, by Joseph of
Arimathea, at Glastonbury, in the year 55 A.D.? Did the
Arimathean really visit Glastonbury? Anyhow, the book is full of
learning and instruction, and, indeed, both Pocklington's books
have an interest of their own, apart from their fate, which, of
so many, is their sole recommendation.

The sentence against Pocklington was strongly vindictive. Both
his practices and his doctrines were condemned. In his practice
he was declared to have been "very superstitious and full of
idolatry," and to have used many gestures and ceremonies "not
established by the laws of this realm." These were the sort of
ceremonies that, without ever having been so established by law,
our ritualists have practically established by custom; and the
offence of the ritualist doctrine as held in those days, and as
illustrated by Pocklington, lay in the following tenets ascribed
to him: (1) that it was men's duty to bow to altars as to the
throne of the Great God; (2) that the Eucharist was the host and
held corporeal presence therein; (3) that there was in the Church
a distinction between holy places and a Holy of holies; (4) that
the canons and constitutions of the Church were to be obeyed
without examination.

For these offences of ritual and doctrine--offences to which,
fortunately, we can afford to be more indifferent than our
ancestors were, no reasonable man now thinking twice about
them--Pocklington was deprived of all his livings and dignities
and preferments, and incapacitated from holding any for the
future, whilst his books were consigned to the hangman. It may
seem to us a spiteful sentence; but it was after all a mild
revenge, considering the atrocious sufferings of the Puritan
writers. It is worse to lose one's ears and one's liberty for
life than even to be deprived of Church livings; and it is
noticeable that bodily mutilations came to an end with the
clipping of the talons of the Crown and the Church at the
beginning of the Long Parliament.

Taking now in order the works of a political nature that were
condemned by the House of Commons to be burnt by the hangman, we
come first to the _Speeches of Sir Edward Dering_, member for
Kent in the Long Parliament, and a greater antiquary than he ever
was a politician. He it was who, on May 27th, 1641, moved the
first reading of the Root and Branch Bill for the abolition of
Episcopacy. "The pride, the avarice, the ambition, and oppression
by our ruling clergy is epidemical," he said; thereby proving
that such an opinion was not merely a Puritan prejudice. But
Dering appears only really to have aimed at the abolition of
Laud's archiepiscopacy, and to have wished to see some purer form
of prelacy re-established in place of the old. Naturally his
views gave offence, which he only increased by republishing his
speeches on matters of religion, Parliament being so incensed
that it burned his book, and committed its author for a week to
the Tower (February 2nd, 1642).

Dering's was the common fate of moderate men in stormy times,
who, seeing good on each side, are ill thought of by both.
Failing to be loyal to either, he was by both mistrusted. For not
only did he ultimately vote on the side of the royalist episcopal
party, but he actually fought on the King's side; then, being
disgusted with the royalists for their leaning to Popery, he
accepted the pardon offered for a compensation by Parliament in
1644, and died the same year, leaving posterity to regret that he
was ever so ill-advised as to exchange antiquities for politics
and party strife.

The famous speech of the statesman whom Charles, with his usual
defiance of public opinion, soon afterwards raised to the peerage
as Lord Digby (on the passing of the Bill of Attainder against
Lord Strafford), was, after its publication by its author,
condemned to be burnt at Westminster, Cheapside, and Smithfield
(July 13th, 1642). Digby voted against putting Strafford to
death, because he did not think it proved by the evidence that
Strafford had advised Charles to employ the army in Ireland for
the subjection of England. But he condemned his general conduct
as strongly as any man. He calls him "the great apostate to the
Commonwealth, who must not expect to be pardoned it in this world
till he be dispatched to the other." He refers very happily to
his great abilities, "whereof God hath given him the use, but the
devil the application." But does the critic's own memory stand
much higher? Was he not the King's evil genius, who, together
with the Queen, pushed him to that fatal step--the arrest of the
five members?

How soon Parliament acquired the evil habit of dealing by fire
and the hangman with uncongenial publications is proved by the
fact that in one year alone the following five leaflets or
pamphlets suffered in this way:--

1. _The Kentish Petition_, drawn up at the Maidstone Assizes by
the gentry, ministry, and commonalty of Kent, praying for the
preservation of episcopal government, and the settlement of
religious differences by a synod of the clergy (April 17th,
1642). The petition was couched in very strong language; and
Professor Gardiner is probably right in saying that it was the
condemnation of this famous petition which rendered civil war

2. _A True Relation of the Proceedings of the Scots and English
Forces in the North of Ireland._ This was thought to be
dishonouring to the Scots, and was accordingly ordered to be
burnt (June 8th, 1642).

3. _King James: his Judgment of a King and a Tyrant_ (September
12th, 1642).

4. _A Speedy Post from Heaven to the King of England_ (October
5th, 1642).

5. _Letter from Lord Falkland_ to the Earl of Cumberland,
concerning the action at Worcester (October 8th, 1642).

Thus did Parliament, and the House of Commons especially, improve
upon the precedent first set by the Star Chamber; and the
practice must soon have somewhat lost its force by the very
frequency of its repetition. David Buchanan's _Truth's Manifest_,
containing an account of the conduct of the Scotch nation in the
Civil War, was condemned to be burnt by the hangman (April 13th,
1646), but may still be read. _An Unhappy Game at Scotch and
English_, pamphlets like the _Mercurius Elenchicus_ and
_Mercurius Pragmaticus_, the _Justiciarius Justificatus_, by
George Wither, perished about the same time in the same way; and
in 1648 such profane Royalist political squibs as _The
Parliament's Ten Commandments_; _The Parliament's Pater Noster,
and Articles of the Faith_; and _Ecce the New Testament of our
Lords and Saviours, the House of Commons at Westminster, or the
Supreme Council at Windsor_, were, for special indignity,
condemned to be burnt in the three most public places of London.

The observance of Sunday has always been a fruitful source of
contention, and in 1649 the chief magistrates in England and
Wales were ordered by the House of Commons to cause to be burnt
all copies of James Okeford's _Doctrine of the Fourth
Commandment, deformed by Popery, reformed and restored to its
primitive purity_ (March 18th, 1650). They did their duty so well
that not a copy appears to survive, even in the British Museum.
The author, moreover, was sentenced to be taken and imprisoned;
so thoroughly did the spirit of persecution take possession of a
Parliamentary majority when the power of it fell into their

This was also shown in other matters. For instance, not only were
_Joseph Primatt's Petition_ to Parliament, with reference to his
claims to certain coal mines, and Lilburne's _Just Reproof to
Haberdasher's Hall_ on Primatt's behalf, condemned to be burnt by
the hangman (January 15th, July 30th, 1652), but both authors
were sentenced, one to fines amounting to £5,000, the other to
fines amounting to £7,000, which, though falling far short of
the Star Chamber fines, were very considerable sums in those
days. Lilburne, on this occasion, was also sentenced to be
banished, and to be deemed guilty of felony if he returned; but
this part of the sentence was never enforced, for Lilburne
remained, to continue to the very end, by speech and writing,
that perpetual warfare with the party in power which constituted
his political life.

John Fry, M.P., who sat in the High Court of Justice for the
trial of Charles I., wrote in 1648 his _Accuser Shamed_ against
Colonel Downes, a fellow-member, who had most unfairly charged
him before the House with blasphemy for certain expressions used
in private conversation, and thereby caused his temporary
suspension. Dr. Cheynel, President of St. John's at Oxford,
printed an answer to this, and Fry rejoined in his _Clergy in
their True Colours_ (1650), a pamphlet singularly expressive of
the general dislike at that time entertained for the English
clergy. He complains of the strange postures assumed by the
clergy in their prayers before the sermon, and says: "Whether the
fools and knaves in stage plays took their pattern from these
men, or these from them, I cannot determine; but sure one is the
brat of the other, they are so well alike." He confesses himself
"of the opinion of most, that the clergy are the great
incendiaries." In the matter of Psalm-singing he finds "few men
under heaven more irrational in their religious exercises than
our clergy." As to their common evasion of difficulties by the
plea that it is above reason, he fairly observes: "If a man will
consent to give up his reason, I would as soon converse with a
beast as with that man." Nevertheless, how many do so still!

Fry wrote as a rational churchman, not as an anti-Christian,
"from a hearty desire for their (the clergy's) reformation, and a
great zeal to my countrymen that they may no longer be deceived
by such as call themselves the ministers of the Gospel, but are
not." This appears on the title-page; but a good motive has
seldom yet saved a man or a book, and the House, having debated
about both tracts from morning till night, not only voted them
highly scandalous and profane, but consigned them to the hangman
to burn, and expelled Fry from his seat in Parliament (February
21st, 1651).

So far of the political utterances that for the offence they gave
were condemned to the flames; but these only represent one side
of the activity of the legislature of that time. Nothing, indeed,
better illustrates the mind of the seventeenth century than the
several instances in which Parliament, in the exercise of its
assumed power over literature generally, interfered with works of
a theological nature, nor does anything more clearly or curiously
reveal the mental turmoil of that period than does the perusal of
some of the works that then met with Parliamentary censure or
condemnation. In undertaking this interference it is possible
that Parliament exceeded its province, and one is glad that it
has long since ceased to claim the keepership of the People's
Conscience. But in those days ideas of toleration were in their
infancy; the right of free thought, or of its expression, had not
been established; and the maintenance of orthodoxy was deemed as
much the duty of Parliament as the maintenance of the rights of
the people. So a Parliamentary majority soon came to exercise as
much tyranny over thought as ever had been exercised by king or
bishop; and, in fact, the theological writer ran even greater
personal risks from the indignation of Parliament than he would
have run in the period preceding 1640, for he began to run in
danger of his life.

The first theological work dealt with by Parliament appears to
have been that curious posthumous work, entitled _Comfort for
Believers about their Sinnes and Troubles_, which appeared in
June 1645, by John Archer, Master of Arts, and preacher at All
Hallows', Lombard Street. It had but a short life, for the very
next month the Assembly of Divines, then sitting at Westminster,
complained to Parliament of its contents, and Parliament
condemned it to be publicly burnt in four places, the Assembly to
draw up a formal detestation to be read at the burning. In this
document it was admitted that the author had been "of good
estimation for learning and piety"; but the author's logic was
better than his theology, for he attributed all evil to the Cause
of all things, and contended that for wise purposes God not only
permitted sin, but had a hand in its essence, namely, "in the
privity, and ataxy, the anomye, or irregularity of the act" (if
that makes it any clearer). A single passage will convey the
drift of the seventy-six pages devoted to this difficult

"Who hinted to God, or gave advice by counsel to Him, to let the
creature sin? Did any necessity, arising upon the creature's
being, enforce it that sin must be? Could not God have hindered
sin, if He would? Might He not have kept man from sinning, as He
did some of the angels? Therefore, it was His device and plot
before the creature was that there should be sin. . . . It is by
sin that most of God's glory in the discovery of His attributes
doth arise. . . . Therefore certainly it limits Him much to bring
in sin by a contingent accident, merely from the creature, and to
deny God a hand and will in its being and bringing forth."

The author thought these positions quite compatible with
orthodoxy; not so, however, the Presbyterian divines, nor
Parliament; and certainly Archer's questions were more easily and
more swiftly answered by fire than in any other way. Had he
lived, one wonders how the divines would have punished him. For
the next two cases prove how dangerous it was becoming to be
convicted or even suspected of heterodoxy. Parliament was
beginning to understand its duty as Defender of the Faith as the
Holy Inquisition has always understood it--namely, by the death
of the luckless assailant.

Thus, on July 24th, 1647, the House of Commons condemned to be
burnt in three different places, on three different days, Paul
Best's pamphlet, of the following curious title: _Mysteries
Discovered, or a Mercurial Picture pointing out the way from
Babylon to the Holy City, For the Good of all such as during that
Night of General Error and Apostacy, II. Thess. ii. 3, Rev. iii.
10, have been so long misled with Rome's Hobgoblin, by me, Paul
Best, prisoner in the Gatehouse, Westminster_. It concluded with
a prayer for release from an imprisonment, which had then lasted
more than three years, for certain theological opinions
"committed to a minister (a supposed friend) for his judgment and
advice only." This minister was the Rev. Roger Leys, who
infamously betrayed the trust reposed in him, and made public the
frankness of private conversation.

Best had been imprisoned in the Gatehouse for certain expressions
he was supposed to have used about the Trinity; and before he
wrote this pamphlet the House of Commons had actually voted that
he should be hanged. Justly, therefore, he wrote: "Unless the
Lord put to His helping hand of the magistrate for the manacling
of Satan in that persecuting power, there is little hope either
of the liberty of the subject or the law of God amongst us." And
if he was not orthodox, he was sensible, for he says: "I cannot
understand what detriment could redound either to Church or
Commonwealth by toleration of religions."

His heresy consisted in thinking that pagan ideas had been
imported into, and so had corrupted, the original monotheism of
Christianity. "We may perceive how by iniquity of time the real
truth of God hath been trodden under foot by a verbal kind of
divinity, introduced by the semi-pagan Christianity of the third
century in the Western Church." He certainly did not hold the
doctrine of the Trinity in what was then deemed the orthodox way,
but his precise belief is rather obscurely stated, and is a
matter of indifference.

One is glad to learn that he escaped hanging after all, and was
released about the end of 1647, probably at the instance of
Cromwell. He then retired to the family seat in Yorkshire, where
he combined farming with his favourite theological studies for
the ten remaining years of his life. His career at Cambridge had
been distinguished, as might also have been his career in the
world but for that unfortunate bent for theology, and the use of
his reason in its study, that has led so many worthy men to
disgrace and destruction.

But, in spite of the Assembly of Divines, the air was thick with
theological speculation; and only a few weeks after the
condemnation of Best's _Mysteries_, the House condemned to a
similar fate Bidle's _Twelve Arguments drawn out of Scripture,
wherein the Commonly Received Opinion touching the Deity of the
Holy Spirit is Clearly and Fully Refuted_.

Bidle, a tailor's son, must take high rank among the martyrs of
learning. After a brilliant school career at Gloucester, he went
to Magdalen College, Oxford, where, says his biographer, "he did
so philosophise, as it might be observed, he was determined more
by Reason than Authority"; and this dangerous beginning he
shortly followed up, when master of the Free School at
Gloucester, by the still more dangerous conclusion that the
common doctrine of the Trinity "was not well grounded in
Revelation, much less in Reason." For this he was brought before
the magistrates at Gloucester on the charge of heresy (1644); and
from that time till his death from gaol-fever in 1662, at the age
of forty-two, Bidle seldom knew what liberty was. It was soon
after his first imprisonment that he published his _Twelve
Arguments_. Though the House had this burnt by the hangman, it
was so popular that it was reprinted the same year. The year
following (1648) the House passed an ordinance making a denial of
the Trinity a capital offence; in spite of which Bidle published
his _Confession of Faith touching the Holy Trinity, according to
Scripture_, and his _Testimonies of Different Fathers_ regarding
the same, the last of which manifests considerable learning. The
Assembly of Divines then appealed to Parliament to put him to
death; yet, strange to say, Parliament did not do so, but soon
after released their prisoner. In 1654 he published his _Twofold
Catechism_, for which he was again committed to the Gatehouse,
and debarred from the use of pens, ink, and paper; and all his
books were sentenced to be burnt (December 13th, 1654). After a
time, his fate being still uncertain, Cromwell procured his
release, or rather sent him off to the Scilly Isles. But his
enemies got him into prison again at last, and there a blameless
and pious life fell a victim to the power of bigotry. One may
regret a life thus spent and sacrificed; but only so has the
cause of free thought been gradually won.

Bidle has also been thought to have been the translator of the
famous _Racovian Catechism_, first published in Polish at Racow
in 1605, and in Latin in 1609. In it two anti-Trinitarian divines
reduced to a systematic form the whole of the Socinian doctrine.
A special interest attaches to it from the fact that Milton, then
nearly blind, was called before the House in connection with the
Catechism, as though he had had a share in its translation or
publication. It was condemned to be burnt as blasphemous (April
1st, 1652). In the Journals of the House copious extracts are
given from the work, from which the following may serve to
indicate what chiefly gave offence:--

"What do you conceive exceedingly profitable to be known of the
Essence of God?

"It is to know that in the Essence of God there is only one
person . . . and that by no means can there be more persons in
that Essence, and that many persons in one essence is a pernicious
opinion, which doth easily pluck up and destroy the belief of one
God. . . .

"But the Christians do commonly affirm the Son and Spirit to be
also persons in the unity of the same Godhead.

"I know they do, but it is a very great error; and the arguments
brought for it are taken from Scriptures misunderstood.

"But seeing the Son is called God in the Scriptures, how can
that be answered?

"The word God in Scripture is chiefly used two ways: first, as it
signifies Him that rules in heaven and earth . . .; secondly, as
it signifies one who hath received some high power or authority
from that one God, or is some way made partaker of the Deity of
that one God. It is in this latter sense that the Son in certain
places in Scripture is called God. And the Son is upon no higher
account called God than that He is sanctified by the Father and
sent into the world.

"But hath not the Lord Jesus Christ besides His human a Divine
nature also?

"No, by no means, for that is not only repugnant to sound reason,
but to the Holy Scripture also."

This is doubtless enough to convey an idea of the Catechism,
which was again translated in 1818 by T. Rees. Whether Bidle was
the translator or not, he must have been actuated by good
intentions in what he wrote; for he says of the _Twofold
Catechism_, that it "was composed for their sakes that would fain
be mere Christians, and not of this or that sect, inasmuch as all
the sects of Christians, by what names soever distinguished, have
either more or less departed from the simplicity and truth of
the Scripture." But these Christians, who preferred their
religion to their sect, Bidle should have known were too few to

Far inferior writers to Bidle were Ebiezer Coppe and Laurence
Clarkson: nor, if religious madness could be so stamped out, can
we complain of the House of Commons for condemning their works to
the flames. The strongest possible condemnation was passed for
its "horrid blasphemies" on Coppe's _Fiery Flying Roll; or, Word
from the Lord to all the Great Ones of the Earth whom this may
concern, being the Last Warning Peace at the Dreadful Day of
Judgment_. All discoverable copies of this book were to be burnt
by the hangman at three different places (February 1st, 1650);
and Coppe was imprisoned, but was released on his recantation of
his opinions. His book was the cause of that curious ordinance of
August 9th, 1650, for the "punishment of atheistical,
blasphemous, and execrable opinions," which is the best summary
and proof of the intense religious fanaticism then prevalent, and
so curiously similar in all its details to that of the primitive
Christian Church. At both periods the distinctive features were
the claim to actual divinity, and to superiority to all moral

On September 27th, 1650, Clarkson's _Single Eye: all Light, no
Darkness_, was condemned to be burnt by the hangman; and Clarkson
himself not only sent to the House of Correction for a month, but
sentenced to be banished after that for life under a penalty of
death if he returned.

These books have their value for students of human nature, and so
have the next I refer to, the works of Ludovic Muggleton, most of
which were written during this period, though not condemned to be
burnt till the year 1676, and which in other respects seem to
touch the lowest attainable depth of religious demoralisation.
The extraordinary thing is that Muggleton actually founded a sort
of religion of his own; at all events, he gave life and title to
a sect, which counts votaries to this day. Only so recently as
1846 a list of the works of Muggleton and his colleague Reeve was
published, and the books advertised for sale. These two men
claimed to be the two last witnesses or prophets, with power to
sentence men to eternal damnation or blessedness. Muggleton had a
decided preference for exercising the former power, especially in
regard to the Quakers, one of his books being called _A Looking
Glass for George Fox, the Quaker, and other Quakers, wherein they
may See Themselves to be Right Devils_. There is no reason to
believe Muggleton to have been a conscious impostor; only in an
age vexed to madness by religious controversy, religious madness
carried him further than others. An asylum would have met his
case better than the sentence of the Old Bailey, which condemned
him to stand for three days in the pillory at the three most
eminent places in the City, his books to be there in three lots
burnt over his head, and himself then to be imprisoned till he
had paid a sum of £500 (1676). But this did not finish the man,
for in 1681 he wrote his _Letter to Colonel Phaire_, the language
of which is perhaps unsurpassed for repulsiveness in the whole
range of religious literature. Muggleton's writings in short read
as a kind of religious nightmare. In their case the fire was
rather profaned by its fuel than the books honoured by the fire.



With the Restoration, the burning of certain obnoxious books
formed one of the first episodes of that Royalist war of revenge
of which the most disgraceful expression was the exhumation and
hanging at Tyburn of the bones of Cromwell and Ireton. And had
Goodwin and Milton not absconded, it is probable that the revenge
which had to content itself with their books would have extended
to their persons.

John Goodwin, distinguished as a minister and a prolific writer
on the people's side, had dedicated in 1649 to the House of
Commons his _Obstructours of Justice_, in which he defended the
execution of Charles I. He based his case, indeed, after the
fashion of those days, too completely on Biblical texts to suit
our modern taste; but his book is far from being the "very weak
and inconclusive performance" of which Neal speaks in his
history of the Puritans. The sentiments follow exactly those of
Rutherford's _Lex Rex_; as, for example, "The Crown is but the
kingdom's or people's livery. . . . The king bears the relation
of a political servant or vassal to that state, kingdom, or
people over which he is set to govern." But the commonplaces of
to-day were rank heresy in a chaplain to Cromwell.

There seems to be no evidence to support Bishop Burnet's
assertion that Goodwin was the head of the Fifth-Monarchy
fanatics; and his story is simply that of a fearless, sensible,
and conscientious minister, who took a strong interest in the
political drama of his time, and advocated liberty of conscience
before even Milton or Locke. But his chief distinction is to have
been marked out for revenge in company with Milton by the
miserable Restoration Parliament.

Milton's _Eikonoklastes_ and _Defensio Populi Anglicani_ rank, of
course, among the masterpieces of English prose, and ought to be
read, where they never will be, in every Board and public school
of England. In the first the picture of Charles I., as painted in
the _Eikon Basilike_, was unmercifully torn to pieces. Charles's
religion, Milton declares, had been all hypocrisy. He had
resorted to "ignoble shifts to seem holy, and to get a saintship
among the ignorant and wretched people." The prayer he had given
as a relic to the bishop at his execution had been stolen from
Sidney's _Arcadia_. In outward devotion he had not at all
exceeded some of the worst kings in history. But in spite of
Milton, the _Eikon Basilike_ sold rapidly, and contributed
greatly to the reaction; and the Secretary of the Council of
State had just reason to complain of the perverseness of his
generation, "who, having first cried to God to be delivered from
their king, now murmur against God for having heard their prayer,
and cry as loud for their king against those that delivered

The next year (1650) Milton had to take up his pen again in the
same cause against the _Defence of Charles I. to Charles II._ by
the learned Salmasius. Milton was not sparing in terms of abuse.
He calls Salmasius "a rogue," "a foreign insignificant
professor," "a slug," "a silly loggerhead," "a superlative fool."
Even a _Times_ leader of to-day would fall short of Milton in
vituperative terms. It is not for this we still reverence the
_Defensio_; but for its political force, and its occasional
splendid passages. Two samples must suffice:--

"Be this right of kings whatever it will, the right of the people
is as much from God as it. And whenever any people, without some
visible designation from God Himself, appoint a king over them,
they have the same right to pull him down as they had to set him
up at first. And certainly it is a more Godlike action to depose
a tyrant than to set one up; and there appears much more of God
in the people when they depose an unjust prince than in a king
that oppresses an innocent people. . . . So that there is but
little reason for that wicked and foolish opinion that kings, who
commonly are the worst of men, should be so high in God's account
as that He should have put the world under them, to be at their
beck and be governed according to their humour; and that for
their sakes alone He should have reduced all mankind, whom He
made after His own image, into the same condition as brutes."

The conclusion of Milton's _Defensio_ is not more remarkable for
its eloquence than it is for its closing paragraph. Addressing
his countrymen in an exhortation that reminds one of the speeches
of Pericles to the Athenians, he proceeds:--

"God has graciously delivered you, the first of nations, from
the two greatest miseries of this life, and most pernicious to
virtue, tyranny, and superstition; He has endued you with
greatness of mind to be the first of mankind, who, after having
conquered their own king, and having had him delivered into their
hands, have not scrupled to condemn him judicially, and pursuant
to that sentence of condemnation to put him to death. After the
performing so glorious an action as this, you ought to do nothing
that is mean and little, not so much as to think of, much less to
do, anything but what is great and sublime."

An exhortation to virtue founded on an act of regicide! To such
an issue had come the dispute concerning the Divine Right of
kings; and with such diversity of opinion do different men form
their judgments concerning the leading events of their time!

The House of Commons, reverting for a time to the ancient
procedure in these matters, petitioned the King on June 16th,
1660, to call in these books of Goodwin and Milton, and to order
them to be burnt by the common hangman: and the King so far
assented as to issue a proclamation ordering all persons in
possession of such books to deliver them up to their county
sheriffs to be burnt by the hangman at the next assizes (August
13th, 1660).[122:1] In this way a good many were burnt; but,
happily for the authors themselves, "they so fled or so obscured
themselves" that all endeavours to apprehend their persons
failed. Subsequently the benefits of the Act of Oblivion were
conferred on Milton; but they were denied to Goodwin, who, having
barely escaped sentence of death by Parliament, was incapacitated
from ever holding any office again.

The _Lex Rex_, or the _Law and the Prince_ (1644), by the
Presbyterian divine Samuel Rutherford, was another book which
incurred the vengeance of the Restoration, and for the same
reasons as Goodwin's book or Milton's. It was burnt by the
hangman at Edinburgh (October 16th, 1660), St. Andrews (October
23rd, 1660),[122:2] and London; its author was deprived of his
offices both in the University and the Church, and was summoned
on a charge of high treason before the Parliament of Edinburgh.
His death in 1661 anticipated the probable legal sentence, and
saved Rutherford from political martyrdom.

His book was an answer to the _Sacra Sancta Regum Majestas_, in
which the Divine Right of kings, and the duty of passive
obedience, had been strenuously upheld. Its appearance in 1644
created a great sensation, and threw into the shade Buchanan's
_De Jure Regni apud Scotos_, which had hitherto held the field on
the popular side. The purpose and style of the book may be
gathered from the passage in the preface, wherein the writer
gives, as his reason for writing, the opinion that arbitrary
government had "over-swelled all banks of law, that it was now at
the highest float . . . that the naked truth was, that prelates, a
wild and pushing cattle to the lambs and flocks of Christ, had
made a hideous noise; the wheels of their chariot did run an
unequal pace with the bloodthirsty mind of the daughter of
Babel." The contention was, that all regal power sprang from the
suffrages of the people. "The king is subordinate to the
Parliament, not co-ordinate, for the constituent is above the
constituted." "What are kings but vassals to the State, who, if
they turn tyrants, fall from their right?" For the rest, a book
so crammed and stuffed with Biblical quotations as to be most
unreadable. And indeed, of all the features of that miserable
seventeenth century, surely nothing is more extraordinary than
this insatiate taste of men of all parties for Jewish precedents.
Never was the enslavement of the human mind to authority carried
to more absurd lengths with more lamentable results; never was
manifested a greater waste, or a greater wealth, of ability. For
that reason, though Rutherford may claim a place on our shelves,
he is little likely ever to be taken down from them. But may the
principles he contended for remain as undisturbed as his repose!

The year following the burning of these books the House of
Commons directed its vengeance against certain statutes passed by
the Republican government. On May 17th, 1661, a large majority
condemned the _Solemn League and Covenant_ to be burnt by the
hangman, the House of Lords concurring. All copies of it were
also to be taken down from all churches and public places.
Evelyn, seeing it burnt in several places in London on Monday
22nd, exclaims, "Oh! prodigious change!" The Irish Parliament
also condemned it to the flames, not only in Dublin, but in all
the towns of Ireland.

A few days later, May 27th, the House of Commons, unanimously and
with no petition to the King, condemned to be burnt as
"treasonable parchment writings":

1. "The Act for erecting a High Court of Justice for the trial of
Charles I."

2. "The Act declaring and constituting the people of England a

3. "The Act for subscribing the Engagement."

4. "The Act for renouncing and disannulling the title of Charles
Stuart" (September 1656).

5. "The Act for the security of the Lord Protector's person and
continuance of the Nation in peace and safety" (September 1656).

Three of these were burnt at Westminster and two at the Exchange.
Pepys, beholding the latter sight from a balcony, was led to
moralise on the mutability of human opinion. The strange thing is
that, when these Acts were burnt, the Act for the abolition of
the House of Lords (1649) appears to have escaped condemnation.
For its intrinsic interest, I here insert the words of the old

"The Commons of England assembled in Parliament, finding by too
long experience that the House of Lords is useless and dangerous
to the people of England to be continued, hath thought fit to
ordain and enact, and be it ordained and enacted by this present
Parliament and by the authority of the same: That from henceforth
the House of Lords in Parliament shall be and is hereby wholly
abolished and taken away; and that the Lords shall not from
henceforth meet and sit in the said house, called the Lords'
House, or in any other house or place whatsoever as a House of
Lords; nor shall sit, vote, advise, adjudge, or determine of any
matter or thing whatsoever as a House of Lords in Parliament:
Nevertheless, it is hereby declared, that neither such Lords as
have demeaned themselves with honour, courage, and fidelity to
the Commonwealth, nor their posterities (who shall continue so),
shall be excluded from the public councils of the Nation, but
shall be admitted thereunto and have their free vote in
Parliament, if they shall be thereunto elected, as other persons
of interest elected and qualified thereunto ought to have. And be
it further ordained and enacted by the authority aforesaid, That
no peer of this land (not being elected, qualified, and sitting
as aforesaid) shall claim, have, or make use of any privilege of
Parliament either in relation to his person, quality, or estate
any law, usage, or custom to the contrary

How true a presentiment our ancestors had of the incompatibility
between an hereditary chamber and popular liberty is
conspicuously shown by the next book we read of as burnt; and
indeed there are few more instructive historical tracts than
Locke's _Letter from a Person of Quality to his Friend in the
Country_, which was ordered to be burnt by the Privy Council; and
wherein he gave an account of the debates in the Lords on a Bill
"to prevent the dangers which may arise from persons disaffected
to the Government," in April and May 1675. It was actually
proposed by this Bill to make compulsory on all officers of
Church or State, and on all members of both Houses, an oath, not
only declaring it unlawful upon any pretence to take arms against
the King, but swearing to endeavour at no time the alteration of
the government in Church and State. To that logical position had
the Royalist spirit come within fifteen years of the Restoration;
Charles II., according to Burnet, being much set on this scheme,
which, says Locke, was "first hatched (as almost all the
mischiefs of the world have been) amongst the great churchmen."
The bishops and clergy, by their outcry, had caused Charles's
Declaration of Indulgence (March 17th, 1671) to be cancelled, and
the great seal broken off it; they had "tricked away the rights
and liberties of the people, in this and all other countries,
wherever they had had opportunity . . . that priest and prince
may, like Castor and Pollux, be worshipped together as divine,
in the same temple, by us poor lay-subjects; and that sense
and reason, law, properties, rights, and liberties shall be
understood as the oracles of those deities shall interpret."

There seems no doubt that the extinction of liberty was as
vigorously aimed at as it was nearly achieved at the period Locke
describes, under the administration of Lord Danby. But the Bill,
though carried in the Lords, was strongly contested. Locke says
that it occupied sixteen or seventeen whole days of debate, the
House sitting often till 8 or 9 P.M., or even to midnight. His
account of the speakers and their arguments is one of the most
graphic pages of historical painting in our language; but it is
said to have been drawn up at the desire, and almost at the
dictation, of Locke's friend, Lord Shaftesbury, who himself took
a prominent part against the Bill. Fortunately, it never got
beyond the House of Lords, a dispute between the two Houses
leading to a prorogation of Parliament and so to the salvation of
liberty. But the whole episode impresses on the mind the force of
the current then, as always, flowing in favour of arbitrary
government throughout our history, as well as a sense of the very
narrow margin by which liberty of any sort has escaped or been
evolved, and, in general, of wonder that it should ever have
survived at all the combinations of adverse circumstances against

It has been shown in the account of books burnt in the time of
the Rebellion, how freely in the struggle between Orthodoxy and
Free Thought--between the dogmas, that is, of the strongest sect
and the speculations of individuals--fire was resorted to for the
purpose of burning out unpopular opinions. These, indeed, were
often of so fantastic a nature, that no fire was really needed to
insure their extinction; whilst of others it may be said that, as
their existence was originally independent of actual expression,
so the punishment inflicted on their utterance could prove no
barrier to their propagation.

But besides the war that was waged in the domain of theology
proper, between opinions claiming to be sound and opinions
claiming to be true, a contest no less fierce centred for long
round the very organisation of the Church; and between the
Establishment and Dissent that hostile condition of thrust and
parry, which has since become chronic, and is so detrimental to
the cause professed by both alike, is no less visible in the
field of literature than in that of our general history.
Associated with the literary side of this great and bitter
conflict--a side only too much ignored in the discreet popular
histories of the English Church--are the names of Delaune, Defoe,
Tindal, on the aggressive side, of Sacheverell and Drake on the
defensive; each party, during the heat of battle, giving vent to
sentiments so offensive to the other as to make it seem that fire
alone could atone for the injury or remove the sting.

The first book to mention in connection with this struggle is
Delaune's _Plea for the Nonconformists_; a book round which hangs
a melancholy tale, and which is entitled to a niche in the
library of Fame for other reasons than the mere fact of its
having been burnt before the Royal Exchange in 1683. The story
shows the sacerdotalism of the Church of England at its very
worst, and helps to explain the evil heritage of hatred which, in
the hearts of the nonconforming sects, has since descended and
still clings to her.

Dr. Calamy, one of the King's chaplains, had preached and printed
a sermon called _Scrupulous Conscience_, challenging to, or
advocating, the friendly discussion of points of difference
between the Church and the Nonconformists. Delaune, who kept a
grammar school, was weak enough to take him at his word, and so
wrote his _Plea_, a book of wondrous learning, and to this day
one of the best to read concerning the origin and growth of the
various rites of the Church. Thereupon he was whisked off to herd
with the commonest felons in Newgate, whence he wrote repeatedly
to Dr. Calamy, to beg him, as the cause of his unjust arrest, to
procure his release. Delaune disclaimed all malignity against the
English Church, or any member of it, and, with grim humour,
entreated to be convinced of his errors "by something more like
divinity than Newgate." But the Church has not always dealt in
more convincing divinity, and accordingly the cowardly
ecclesiastic held his peace and left his victim to suffer.

It is difficult even now to tell the rest of Delaune's story with
patience. He was indicted for intending to disturb the peace of
the kingdom, to bring the King into the greatest hatred and
contempt, and for printing and publishing, by force of arms, a
scandalous libel against the King and the Prayer-Book. Of course
it was extravagantly absurd, but these indictments were the legal
forms under which the luckless Dissenters experienced sufferings
that were to them the sternest realities. Delaune was, in
consequence, fined a sum he could not possibly pay; his books
(for he also wrote _The Image of the Beast_, wherein he showed,
in three parallel columns, the far greater resemblance of the
Catholic rites to those of Pagan Rome than to those of the New
Testament) were condemned to be burnt; and his judges, humane
enough to let him off the pillory in consideration of his
education, sent him back to Newgate notwithstanding it. There, in
that noisome atmosphere and in that foul company, he was obliged
to shelter his wife and two small children; and there, after
fifteen months, he died, having first seen all he loved on earth
pine and die before him. And he was only one of eight thousand
other Protestant Dissenters who died in prison during the merry,
miserable reign of Charles II.! Of a truth, Dissent has something
to forgive the Church; for persecution in Protestant England was
very much the same as in Catholic France, with, if possible, less

The main argument of Delaune's book was, that the Church of
England agreed more in its rites and doctrines with the Church of
Rome, and both Churches with Pagan or pre-Christian Rome, than
either did with the primitive Church or the word of the Gospel--a
thesis that has long since become generally accepted; but his
main offence consisted in saying that the Lord's Prayer ought in
one sentence to have been translated precisely as it now has been
in the Revised Version, and in contending that the frequent
repetition of the prayer in church was contrary to the express
command of Scripture. On these and other points Delaune's book
was never answered--for the reason, I believe, that it never
could be. After the Act of Toleration (1689) it was often
reprinted; the eighth and last time in 1706, when the High Church
movement to persecute Dissent had assumed dangerous strength,
with an excellent preface by Defoe, and concluding with the
letters to Dr. Calamy, written by Delaune from Newgate. Defoe
well points out that the great artifice of Delaune's time was to
make the persecution of Dissent appear necessary, by
representing it as dangerous to the State as well as the Church.

The mention of two other books seems to complete the list of
burnt political literature down to the Revolution of 1688.

One is _Malice Defeated_, or a brief relation of the accusation
and deliverance of Elizabeth Cellier. The authoress was
implicated in the Dangerfield conspiracy, and, having been
indicted for plotting to kill the King and to reintroduce Popery,
was sentenced at the Old Bailey to be imprisoned till she had
paid a fine of £1,000, to stand three times in the pillory, and
to have her books burnt by the hangman. I do not suppose that, in
her case, literature incurred any loss.

The other is the translation of Claude's _Plaintes des
Protestants_, burnt at the Exchange on May 5th, 1686. After the
Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, people like Sir Roger
l'Estrange were well paid to write denials of any cruelties as
connected with that measure in France; much as in our own day
people wrote denials of the Turkish atrocities in Bulgaria. The
famous Huguenot minister's book proved of course abundantly the
falsity of this denial; but, as Evelyn says, so great a power in
the English Court had then the French ambassador, "who was
doubtless in great indignation at the pious and truly generous
charity of all the nation for the relief of those miserable
sufferers who came over for shelter," that, in deference to his
wishes, the Government of James II. condemned the truth to the
flames. Nothing in that monarch's reign proves more conclusively
the depth of degradation to which his foreign policy and that of
his brother had caused his country to fall.


[122:1] In Kennet's _Register_, 189.

[122:2] Lamont's _Diary_, 159.

[127:1] Scobell's _Collection of Acts_, II. 8.



The period of the Revolution, by which I mean from the accession
of William III. to the death of Queen Anne, was a time in which
the conflict between Orthodoxy and Free Thought, and again
between Church and Dissent, continued with an unabated ferocity,
which is most clearly reflected in and illustrated by the
sensational history of its contemporary literature, especially
during the reign of Queen Anne. I am not aware that any book was
burnt by authority of the English Parliament during the reign of
William, but to say this in the face of Molyneux's _Case for
Ireland_, which has been so frequently by great authorities
declared to have been so treated, compels me to allude to the
history of that book, and to give the reasons for a contrary

It is first stated in the preface to the edition of 1770 that
William Molyneux's _Case for Ireland being bound by Acts of
Parliament in England_, first published in 1698, was burnt by the
hangman at the order of Parliament; and the statement has been
often repeated by later writers, as by Mr. Lecky, Dr. Ball, and
others. Why then is there no mention of such a sentence in the
Journals of the Commons, where a full account is given of the
proceedings against the book; nor in Swift's _Drapier Letters_,
where he refers to the fate of the _Case for Ireland_? This seems
almost conclusive evidence on the negative side; but as the
editor of 1770 may have had some lost authority for his remark,
and not been merely mistaken, some account may be given of the
book, as of one possibly, but not probably, condemned to the

Molyneux was distinguished for his scientific attainments, was a
member of the Irish Parliament, first for Dublin City and then
for the University, and was also a great friend of Locke the
philosopher. The introduction in 1698 of the Bill, which was
carried the same year by the English Parliament, forbidding the
exportation of Irish woollen manufactures to England or
elsewhere--one of the worst Acts of oppression of the many that
England has perpetrated against Ireland--led Molyneux to write
this book, in which he contends for the constitutional right of
Ireland to absolute legislative independence. As the political
relationship between the two countries--a relation now of pure
force on one side, and of subjection on the other--is still a
matter of contention, it will not be out of place to devote a few
lines to a brief summary of his argument.

Before 1641 no law made in England was of force in Ireland
without the consent of the latter, a large number of English Acts
not being received in Ireland till they had been separately
enacted there also. At the so-called conquest of Ireland by Henry
II., the English laws settled by him were voluntarily accepted by
the Irish clergy and nobility, and Ireland was allowed the
freedom of holding parliaments as a separate and distinct kingdom
from England. So it was that John was made King (or Dominus) of
Ireland even in the lifetime of his father, Henry II., and
remained so during the reign of his brother, Richard I. Ireland,
therefore, could not be bound by England without the consent of
her own representatives; and the happiness of having her
representatives in the English Parliament could hardly be hoped
for, since that experiment had been proved in Cromwell's time to
be too troublesome and inconvenient.

Molyneux concluded his argument with a warning that subsequent
history has amply justified--"Advancing the power of the
Parliament of England by breaking the rights of another may in
time have ill effects." So, indeed, it has; but such warnings or
prophecies seldom bring favour to their authors, and the English
Parliament was moved to fury by Molyneux' arguments. Yet the
latter, writing to Locke on the subject of his book, had said: "I
think I have treated it with that caution and submission that it
cannot justly give any offence; insomuch that I scruple not to
put my name to it; and, by the advice of some good friends, have
presumed to dedicate it to his Majesty. . . . But till I either
see how the Parliament at Westminster is pleased to take it, or
till I see them risen, I do not think it advisable for me to go
on t'other side of the water. Though I am not apprehensive of any
mischief from them, yet God only knows what resentments captious
men may take on such occasions." (April 19th, 1698.)

Molyneux, however, was soon to know this himself, for on May 21st
his book was submitted to the examination of a committee; and on
the committee's report (June 22nd) that it was "of dangerous
consequence to the Crown and people of England, by denying the
authority of the King and Parliament of England to bind the
kingdom and people of Ireland," an address was presented to the
King praying him to punish the author of such "bold and
pernicious assertions," and to discourage all things that might
lessen the dependence of Ireland upon England; to which William
replied that he would take care that what they complained of
should be prevented and redressed. Perhaps the dedication of the
book to the King restrained the House from voting it to the
flames; but, anyhow, there is not the least contemporary evidence
of their doing so. Molyneux did not survive the year of the
condemnation of his book; but, in spite of his fears, he spent
five weeks with Locke at Oates in the autumn of the same year,
his book surviving him, to attest his wonderful foresight as much
as later events justified his spirited remonstrance.

There is, however, no doubt about the burning of a book for its
theological sentiments at this time, though it was no Parliament
but only an university which committed it to the fire. Oxford
University has always tempered her love for learning with a
dislike for inquiry, and set the cause of orthodoxy above the
cause of truth. This phase of her character was never better
illustrated than in the case of _The Naked Gospel_, by the Rev.
Arthur Bury, Rector of Exeter College (1690).

A high value attaches to the first edition of this book, wherein
the author essayed to show what the primitive Gospel really was,
what alterations had been gradually made in it, and what
advantages and disadvantages had therefrom ensued. Bury, many
years before, in 1648, had known what it was to be led from his
college by a file of musketeers, and forbidden to return to
Oxford or his fellowship under pain of death, because he had the
courage in those days to read the prayers of the Church. So he
had some justification for ascribing his anonymous work to "a
true son of the Church"; and his motive was the promotion of that
charity and toleration which breathes in its every page. The King
had summoned a Convocation, to make certain changes in the
Litany, and, if possible, to reconcile ecclesiastical
differences; he even dreamt of uniting the Protestant Churches of
England and of the Continent, and his Comprehension Bill, had it
passed Parliament, might have made the English Church a really
national Church; and it was from his sympathy with the broad
ideas of the King that Bury wrote his pamphlet, intending not to
publish it, but to present it to the members of Convocation
severally. Unfortunately he showed or presented a few copies to a
few friends, with the natural result that the work became known,
the author admonished for heresy and driven from his rectorship,
and the book publicly burnt, by a vote of the university, in the
area of the schools (August 19th, 1690). He should have reflected
that it is as little the part of a discreet man to try to
reconcile religious factions as to seek to separate fighting

The unexpected commotion roused by his book led the author to
republish it with great modifications and omissions; a fact which
much diminishes the interest of the second edition of 1691. For
instance, the preface to the second edition omits this passage of
the first: "The Church of England, as it needs not, so it does
not, forbid any of its sons the use of their own eyes; if it
did, this alone would be sufficient reason not only to distrust
but to condemn it." Nevertheless both editions alike contain many
passages remarkable for their breadth of view no less than for
their admirable expression. What, for instance, could be better
than the passage wherein he speaks of the priests cramming the
people with doctrines, "so many in numbers that an ordinary mind
cannot retain them; so perplexed in matter that the best
understanding cannot comprehend them; so impertinent to any good
purpose that a good man need not regard them; and so unmentioned
in Scripture that none but the greatest subtlety can therein
discover the least intimations of them"? Or again: "No king is
more independent in his own dominions from any foreign
jurisdiction in matters civil, than every Christian is within his
own mind in matters of faith"? What Doctor of Divinity of these
days would speak as courageously as this one did two hundred
years ago? So let any one be prepared to give a good price for a
first edition copy of _The Naked Gospel_, and, when obtained, to
study as well as honour it.

History is apt to repeat itself, and therefore it is of interest
to note here that about a century and a half later (March 1849)
Exeter College was again stirred to the burning point, and that
in connection with a book which, apart from its intrinsic
interest, enjoys the distinction of having been actually the last
to be burnt in England. In the _Morning Post_ of March 9th, 1849,
it is written: "We are informed that a work recently published by
Mr. Froude, M.A., Fellow of Exeter College, entitled the _Nemesis
of Faith_, was a few days since publicly burned by the
authorities in the College Hall." The _Nemesis_, therefore,
deserves a place in our libraries, and many will even prize it
above its author's historical works, as the last example of the
effort of the ecclesiastical spirit to crush the discussion of
its dogmas. It is owing to this attempt that the _Nemesis_ is now
so well known as to render any reference to its contents

We now pass to the reign of Queen Anne, when Toryism became the
prevalent power in the country, and manifested its peculiar
spirit by the increased persecution of literature.

Among strictly theological works one by John Asgill, barrister,
claims a peculiar distinction, for it was burnt by order of two
Parliaments, English and Irish, and its author expelled from two
Houses of Commons. This was the famous _Argument Proving that
According to the Covenant of Eternal Life, revealed in the
Scriptures, Man may be Translated from Hence into that Eternal
Life without Passing Through Death, although the Human Nature of
Christ Himself could not be thus Translated till He had Passed
Through Death_ (1700). In this book of 106 pages Asgill argued
that death, which had come by Adam, had been removed by the death
of Christ, and had lost its legal power. He claimed the right,
and asserted his expectation, of actual translation; and so went
by the nickname of "Translated Asgill." He tells how in writing
it he felt two powers within him, one bidding him write, the
other bobbing his elbow; but unfortunately the former prevailed,
as it generally does. His printer told him that his men thought
the author a little crazed, in which Asgill fancied the printer
spoke one word for them and two for himself. Other people agreed
with the printer, to Asgill's advantage, for, as he says, "Coming
into court to see me as a monster, and hearing me talk like a
man, I soon fell into my share of practice": which I mention as a
hint for the briefless. This was in Ireland, where Asgill was
elected member for Enniscorthy, for which place however he only
sat four days, being expelled for his pamphlet on October 10th,
1703. Shortly afterwards Asgill became member for Bramber, in
Sussex, but this seat, too, he lost in 1707 for the same reason,
the English House, like the Irish, though not by a unanimous
vote, condemning his book to the flames. Asgill's debts caused
him apparently to spend the rest of his days in the comparative
peace of the Fleet prison.

Coleridge says there is no genuine Saxon English better than
Asgill's, and that his irony is often finer than Swift's. At all
events, his burnt work--the labour of seven years--is very dreary
reading, relieved however by such occasional good sayings as "It
is much easier to make a creed than to believe it after it is
made," or "Custom itself, without a reason for it, is an argument
only for fools." Asgill's defence before the House of Commons
shows that a very strained interpretation was placed upon the
passages that gave offence. Let it suffice to quote one: "Stare
at me as long as you will, I am sure that neither my physiognomy,
sins, nor misfortune can make me so unlikely to be translated as
my Redeemer was to be hanged." Asgill clearly wrote in all
honesty and sincerity, though the contrary has been suggested;
and his defence was not without spirit or point: "Pray what is
this blasphemous crime I here stand charged with? A belief of
what we all profess, or at least of what no one can deny. If the
death of the body be included in the fall, why is not this life
of the body included in the redemption? And if I have a firmer
belief in this than another, am I therefore a blasphemer?" But
the House thought that he was; and to impugn the right of the
majority to decide such a point would be to impugn a fundamental
principle of the British Constitution. I therefore refrain from
an opinion, and leave the matter to the reader's judgment.

Among the many books that have owed an increase of popularity, or
any popularity at all, to the fire that burnt them, may be
instanced the two works of Dr. Coward, which were burnt by order
of the House of Commons in Palace Yard on March 18th, 1704. Dr.
Coward had been a Fellow of Merton, and he wrote poetry as well
as books of medicine, but in 1702 he ventured on metaphysical
ground, and under the pseudonym of "Estibius Psychalethes"
dedicated to the clergy his _Second Thoughts concerning the
Human Soul_, in which he contended that the notion of the soul as
a separate immaterial substance was "a plain heathenist
invention:" not exactly a position the clergy were likely to
welcome, although the author repeatedly avowed his belief in an
eternal future life. In 1704 the Doctor published his _Grand
Essay: a Vindication of Reason and Religion against the
Impostures of Philosophy_, in which he repeated his ideas about
immaterial substances, and argued that matter and motion were the
foundation of thought in man and brutes. The House of Commons
called him to its bar, and burnt his books; a proceeding which
conferred such additional popularity upon them that the Doctor
was enabled the very same year to bring out a second edition of
his _Second Thoughts_. Certainly no other treatment could have
made the books popular. They are perfectly legitimate, but rather
dry, metaphysical disquisitions; and Parliament might quite as
fairly have burnt Locke's famous essay on the _Human

For Parliament thus to constitute itself Defender of the Faith
was not merely to trespass on the office of the Crown, but to sin
against the more sacred right of common sense itself. We cannot
be surprised, therefore, since the English Parliament sinned in
this way (as it does to this day in a minor degree), that the
Irish Parliament should have sinned equally, as it did about the
same time, in the case of a book whose title far more suggested
heresy than its contents substantiated it. I refer to Toland's
_Christianity not Mysterious_ (1696), which was burnt by the
hangman before the Parliament House Gate at Dublin, and in the
open street before the Town-House, by order of the Committee of
Religion of the Irish House of Commons, one member even going so
far as to advocate the burning of Toland himself. It is difficult
now to understand the extreme excitement caused by Toland's book,
seeing that it was evidently written in the interests of
Christianity, and would now be read without emotion by the most
orthodox. It was only the superstructure, not the foundation,
that Toland attacked; his whole contention being that
Christianity, rightly understood, contained nothing mysterious or
inconsistent with reason, but that all ideas of this sort, and
most of its rites, had been aftergrowths, borrowed from Paganism,
in that compromise between the new and old religion which
constituted the world's Christianisation.[150:1] Although this
fact is now generally admitted, Toland puts the case so well that
it is best to give his own words:--

"The Christians," he says, "were careful to remove all obstacles
lying in the way of the Gentiles. They thought the most effectual
way of gaining them over to their side was by compounding the
matter, which led them to unwarrantable compliances, till at
length they likewise set up for mysteries. Yet not having the
least precedent for any ceremonies from the Gospel, excepting
Baptism and the Supper, they strangely disguised and transformed
these by adding to them the pagan mystic rites. They administered
them with the strictest secrecy; and to be inferior to their
adversaries in no circumstance, they permitted none to assist at
them but such as were antecedently prepared or initiated."

The parallel Toland proceeds to draw is extremely instructive,
and could only be improved on in our own day by tracing both
Pagan and Christian rites to their antecedent origins in India.
What he says also of the Fathers would be nowadays assented to
by all who have ever had the curiosity to look into their
writings; namely, "that they were as injudicious, violent, and
factious as other men; that they were, for the greatest part,
very credulous and superstitious in religion, as well as
pitifully ignorant and superficial in the minutest punctilios of

Toland was only twenty-six when he published his first book, but,
to judge from the correspondence between Locke and Molyneux, he
was vain and indiscreet. "He has raised against him," says the
latter from Dublin (May 27th, 1697), "the clamours of all
parties; and this not so much by his difference in opinion as by
his unseasonable way of discoursing, propagating, and maintaining
it." Again (September 11th, 1697): "Mr. T. is at last driven out
of the kingdom; the poor gentleman, by his imprudent management,
had raised such an universal outcry that it was even dangerous
for a man to have been known once to converse with him. This made
all men wary of reputation decline seeing him; insomuch that at
last he wanted a meal's meat (as I am told), and none would admit
him to their tables. The little stock of money which he brought
into the country being exhausted, he fell to borrowing from any
one that would lend him half-a-crown, and ran in debt for his
wigs, clothes, and lodging." Then when the Parliament ordered him
to be taken into custody, and to be prosecuted, he very wisely
fled the country, suffering only a temporary rebuff, and writing
many other books, political and religious, none of which ever
attained the distinction of his first.

But it was in the struggle between the Church and Dissent that
the party-spirit of Queen Anne's reign chiefly manifested itself
in the burning of books. No one fought for the cause of Dissent
with greater energy or greater personal loss than the famous
Defoe, the author of _Robinson Crusoe_. It brought him to ruin,
and one of his books to the hangman.

It would seem that his _Shortest Way with the Dissenters_ (1702),
which ironically advocated their extermination, was in answer to
a sermon preached at Oxford by Sacheverell in June of the same
year, called _The Political Union_, wherein he alluded to a party
against whom all friends of the Anglican Church "ought to hang
out the bloody flag and banner of defiance." Defoe's pamphlet so
exactly accorded with the sentiments of the High Church party
against the Dissenters that the extent of their applause at first
was only equalled by that of their subsequent fury when the true
author and his true object came to be known. Parliament ordered
the work to be burnt by the hangman, and Defoe was soon
afterwards sentenced to a ruinous fine and imprisonment, and to
three days' punishment in the pillory. It was on this occasion
that he wrote his famous _Hymn to the Pillory_, which he
distributed among the spectators, and from which (as it is
somewhat long) I quote a few of the more striking lines:--

     "Hail, Hieroglyphick State machine,
      Contrived to punish fancy in;
      Men that are men in thee can feel no pain,
      And all thy insignificants disdain.

             *       *       *       *       *

      Here by the errors of the town
      The fools look out and knaves look on.

             *       *       *       *       *

      Actions receive their tincture from the times,
      And, as they change, are virtues made or crimes.
      Thou art the State-trap of the Law,
      But neither can keep knaves nor honest men in awe.

             *       *       *       *       *

      Thou art no shame to Truth and Honesty,
      Nor is the character of such defaced by thee,
      Who suffer by oppression's injury.
      Shame, like the exhalations of the Sun,
      Falls back where first the motion was begun,
      And they who for no crime shall on thy brows appear,
      Bear less reproach than they who placed them there."

The State-trap of the Law, however, long survived Defoe's hymn to
it, and was unworthily employed against many another great
Englishman before its abolition. That event was delayed till the
first year of Queen Victoria's reign; the House of Lords
defending it, as it defended all other abuses of our old penal
code, when the Commons in 1815 passed a Bill for its abolition.

About the same time, Parliament ordered to be burnt by the
hangman a pamphlet against the Test, which one John Humphrey, an
aged Nonconformist minister, had written and circulated among the
members of Parliament.[154:1] There seems to be no record of the
pamphlet's name; and I only guess it may be a work entitled, _A
Draught for a National Church accommodation, whereby the subjects
of North and South Britain, however different in their judgments
concerning Episcopacy and Presbytery, may yet be united_ (1709).
For, to suggest union or compromise or reconciliation between
parties is generally to court persecution from both.

A book that was very famous in its day, on the opposite side to
Defoe, was Doctor Drake's _Memorial of the Church of England_,
published anonymously in 1705. The Tory author was indignant that
the House of Lords should have rejected the Bill against
Occasional Conformity, which would have made it impossible for
Dissenters to hold any office by conforming to the Test Act; he
complained of the knavish pains of the Dissenters to divide
Churchmen into High and Low; and he declared that the present
prospect of the Church was "very melancholy," and that of the
government "not much more comfortable." Long habit has rendered
us callous to the melancholy state of the Church and the
discomfort of governments; but in Queen Anne's time the croakers'
favourite cry was a serious offence. The Queen's Speech,
therefore, of October 27th, 1705, expressed strong resentment at
this representation of the Church in danger; both Houses, by
considerable majorities, voted the Church to be "in a most safe
and flourishing condition"; and a royal proclamation censured
both the book and its unknown author, a few months after it had
been presented by the Grand Jury of the City, and publicly burnt
by the hangman. It was more rationally and effectually dealt
with in Defoe's _High Church Legion, or the Memorial examined_;
but one is sometimes tempted to wish that the cry of the Church
in danger might be as summarily disposed of as it was in the
reign of Queen Anne, when to vote its safety was deemed
sufficient to insure it.

Drake's misfortunes as a writer were as conspicuous as his
abilities. Two years before the Memorial was burnt, his _Historia
Anglo-Scotica_, purporting to give an impartial history of the
events that occurred between England and Scotland from William
the Conqueror to Queen Elizabeth, was burnt at Edinburgh (June
30th, 1703). It was dedicated to Sir Edward Seymour, one of the
Queen's Commissioners for the Union, and a High Churchman; and as
it also expressed the hope that the Union would afford the Scotch
"as ample a field to love and admire the generosity of the
English as they had theretofore to dread their valour," it was
clearly not calculated to please the Scotch. They accordingly
burned it for its many reflections on the sovereignty and
independence of their crown and nation. As the Memorial was also
burnt at Dublin, Drake enjoys the distinction of having
contributed a book to be burnt in each of the three kingdoms. He
would, perhaps, have done better to have stuck to medicine; and
indeed the number of books written by doctors, which have brought
their authors into trouble, is a remarkable fact in the history
of literature.

Next to Drake's Memorial, and closely akin to it in argument,
come the two famous sermons of Dr. Sacheverell, the friend of
Addison; sermons which made a greater stir in the reign of Queen
Anne than any sermons have ever since made, or seem ever likely
to make again. They were preached in August and November 1709,
the first at Derby, called the _Communication of Sin_, and the
other at St. Paul's. The latter, _Perils among False Brethren_,
is very vigorous, even to read, and it is easy to understand the
commotion it caused. The False Brethren are the Dissenters and
Republicans; Sacheverell is as indignant with those "upstart
novelists" who presume "to evacuate the grand sanction of the
Gospel, the eternity of hell torments," as with those false
brethren who "will renounce their creed and read the Decalogue
backward . . . fall down and worship the very Devil himself
for the riches and honour of this world." In his advocacy of
non-resistance he was thought to hit at the Glorious Revolution
itself. "The grand security of our government, and the very
pillar upon which it stands, is founded upon the steady belief of
the subject's obligation to an absolute and unconditional
obedience to the supreme power in all things lawful, and the
utter illegality of any resistance upon any pretence whatsoever."

Then came the great trial in the House of Lords, and
Sacheverell's most able defence, often attributed to his friend
Atterbury. This speech, which Boyer calls "studied, artful, and
pathetic," deeply affected the fair sex, and even drew tears from
some of the tender-hearted; but a certain lady to whom, before he
preached the sermon, Sacheverell had explained the allusions in
it to William III., the Ministry, and Lord Godolphin, was so
astonished at the audacity of his public recantation that she
suddenly cried out, "The greatest villain under the sun!" But for
this little fact, one might think Sacheverell was unfairly
treated. At the end of it all, however, he was only suspended
from preaching for three years, and his sermons condemned to be
burnt before the Royal Exchange in presence of the Lord Mayor and
sheriffs; a sentence so much more lenient than at first seemed
probable, that bonfires and illuminations in London and
Westminster attested the general delight. At the instance, too,
of Sacheverell's friends, certain other books were burnt two days
before his own, by order of the House of Commons: so that the
High Church party had not altogether the worst of the battle. The
books so burnt were the following:--1. _The Rights of the
Christian Church asserted against the Romish and all other
Priests._ By M. Tindal. 2. _A Defence of the Rights of the
Christian Church._ 3. _A Letter from a Country Attorney to a
Country Parson concerning the Rights of the Church._ 4. Le
Clerc's extract and judgment of the same. 5. John Clendon's
_Tractatus Philosophico-Theologicus de Persona_: a book that
dealt with the subject of the Trinity.

Boyer gives a curious description of Sacheverell: "A man of large
and strong make and good symmetry of parts; of a livid complexion
and audacious look, without sprightliness; the result and
indication of an envious, ill-natured, proud, sullen, and
ambitious spirit"--clearly not the portrait of a friend. Lord
Campbell thought the St. Paul sermon contemptible, and General
Stanhope, in the debate, called it nonsensical and incoherent. It
seems to me the very reverse, even if we abstract it from its
stupendous effect. Sacheverell, no doubt, was a more than
usually narrow-minded priest; but in judging of the preacher we
must think also of the look and the voice and the gestures, and
these probably fully made up, as they so often do, for anything
false or illogical in the sermon itself.

At all events, Sacheverell won for himself a place in English
history. That he should have brought the House of Lords into
conflict with the Church, causing it to condemn to the flames,
together with his own sermons, the famous Oxford decree of 1683,
which asserted the most absolute claims of monarchy, condemned
twenty-seven propositions as impious and seditious, and most of
them as heretical and blasphemous, and condemned the works of
nineteen writers to the flames, would alone entitle his name to
remembrance.[160:1] So incensed indeed were the Commons, that
they also condemned to be burnt the very _Collections of Passages
referred to by Dr. Sacheverell in the Answer to the Articles of
his Impeachment_.

But Parliament was in a burning mood; for Sacheverell's friends,
wishing to justify his cry of the Church in danger, which he had
ascribed to the heretical works lately printed, easily succeeded
in procuring the burning of Tindal's and Clendon's books, before
mentioned. Nor can any one who reads that immortal work, _The
Rights of the Christian Church, asserted against the Romish and
all other Priests who claim an independent power over it_, wonder
at their so urging the House, however much he may wonder at their

The first edition of _The Rights of the Christian Church_
appeared in 1706, published anonymously, but written by the
celebrated Matthew Tindal, than whom All Souls' College has never
had a more distinguished Fellow, nor produced a more brilliant
writer. In those days, when the question that most agitated men's
minds was whether the English Church was of Divine Right, and so
independent of the civil power, or whether it was the creature
of, and therefore subject to, the law, no work more convincingly
proved the latter than this work of Tindal; a work which, even
now, ought to be far more generally known than it is, no less for
its great historical learning than for its scathing denunciations
of priestcraft.

As the subordination of the Church to the State is now a
principle of general acceptance, there is less need to give a
summary of Tindal's arguments, than to quote some of the passages
which led the writer to predict, when composing it, that he was
writing a book that would drive the clergy mad. The promoting the
independent power of the clergy has, he says, "done more mischief
to human societies than all the gross superstitions of the
heathen, who were nowhere ever so stupid as to entertain such a
monstrous contradiction as two independent powers in the same
society; and, consequently, their priests were not capable of
doing so much mischief to the Commonwealth as some since have
been." The fact, that in heathen times greater differences in
religion never gave rise to such desolating feuds as had always
rent Christendom, proves that "the best religion has had the
misfortune to have the worst priests." "'Tis an amazing thing to
consider that, though Christ and His Apostles inculcated nothing
so much as universal charity, and enjoined their disciples to
treat, not only one another, notwithstanding their differences,
but even Jews and Gentiles, with all the kindness imaginable, yet
that their pretended successors should make it their business to
teach such doctrines as destroy all love and friendship among
people of different persuasions; and that with so good success
that never did mortals hate, abhor, and damn one another more
heartily, or are readier to do one another more mischief, than
the different sects of Christians." "If in the time of that wise
heathen Ammianus Marcellinus, the Christians bore such hatred to
one another that, as he complains, no beasts were such deadly
enemies to men as the more savage Christians were generally to
one another, what would he, if now alive, say of them?" etc. "The
custom of sacrificing men among the heathens was owing to their
priests, especially the Druids. . . . And the sacrificing of
Christians upon account of their religious tenets (for which
millions have suffered) was introduced for no other reason than
that the clergy, who took upon them to be the sole judges of
religion, might, without control, impose what selfish doctrines
they pleased." Of the High Church clergy he wittily observes:
"Some say that their lives might serve for a very good rule, if
men would act quite contrary to them; for then there is no
Christian virtue which they could fail of observing."

If Tindal wished to madden the clergy, he certainly succeeded,
for the pulpits raged and thundered against his book. But the
only sermon to which he responded was Dr. Wotton's printed
Visitation sermon preached before the Bishop of Lincoln; and his
_Defence of the Rights of the Christian Church_ (55 pages) was
burnt in company with the larger work. It contained the "Letter
from a Country Attorney to a Country Parson concerning the Rights
of the Church," and the philosopher Le Clerc's appreciative
reference to Tindal's work in his _Bibliothèque Choisie_.

Nevertheless, Queen Anne had given Tindal a present of £500 for
his book, and told him that she believed he had banished Popery
beyond a possibility of its return. Tindal himself, it should be
said, had become a Roman Catholic under James II. and then a
Protestant again, but whether before or after the abdication of
James is not quite clear. He placed a high value on his own work,
for when, in December 1707, the Grand Jury of Middlesex presented
_The Rights_ its author sagely reflected that such a proceeding
would "occasion the reading of one of the best books that have
been published in our age by many more people than otherwise
would have read it." This probably was the case, with the result
that it was burnt, as aforesaid, by the hangman in 1710 by order
of the House of Commons, at the instance of Sacheverell's
friends, in the very same week that Sacheverell's sermons
themselves were burnt! The House wished perhaps to show itself
impartial. The victory, for the time at least, was with
Sacheverell and the Church. The Whig ministry was overturned, and
its Tory successor passed the Bill against Occasional Conformity,
and the Schism Act; and, had the Queen's reign been prolonged,
would probably have repealed the very meagre Toleration Act of
1689. Tindal, however, despite the Tory reaction, continued to
write on the side of civil and religious liberty, keeping his
best work for the last, published within three years of his
death, when he was past seventy, namely, _Christianity as Old as
the Creation; or, the Gospel a republication of the Religion of
Nature_ (1730). Strange to say, this work, criticised as it was,
was neither presented nor burnt. I have no reason, therefore, to
present it here, and indeed it is a book of which rather to read
the whole than merely extracts.

About the same time that Sacheverell's sermons were the sensation
of London, a sermon preached in Dublin on the Presbyterian side
was attended there with the same marks of distinction. In
November 1711 Boyse's sermon on _The Office of a Scriptural
Bishop_ was burnt by the hangman, at the command of the Irish
House of Lords. Unfortunately one cannot obtain this sermon
without a great number of others, amongst which the author
embedded it in a huge and repulsive folio comprising all his
works. The sermon was first preached and printed in 1709, and
reprinted the next year: it enters at length into the historical
origin of Episcopacy in the early Church, the author alluding as
follows to the Episcopacy aimed at by too many of his own
contemporaries: "A grand and pompous sinecure, a domination over
all the churches and ministers in a large district managed by
others as his delegates, but requiring little labour of a man's
own, and all this supported by large revenues and attended with
considerable secular honours." Boyse could hardly say the same in
these days, true, no doubt, as it was in his own. Still, that
even an Irish House of Lords should have seen fit to burn his
sermon makes one think that the political extinction of that body
can have been no serious loss to the sum-total of the wisdom of
the world.

The last writer to incur a vote of burning from the House of
Commons in Queen Anne's reign was William Fleetwood, Bishop of
St. Asaph; and this for the preface to four sermons he had
preached and published: (1) on the death of Queen Mary, 1694; (2)
on the death of the Duke of Gloucester, 1700; (3) on the death of
King William, 1701; (4) on the Queen's Accession, in 1702. It was
voted to the public flames on June 10th, 1712, as "malicious and
factious, highly reflecting upon the present administration of
public affairs under Her Majesty, and tending to create discord
and sedition among her subjects." The burning of the preface
caused it to be the more read, and some 4,000 numbers of the
_Spectator_, No. 384, carried it far and wide. Probably it was
more read than the prelate's numerous tracts and sermons, such as
his _Essay on Miracles_, or his _Vindication of the Thirteenth of

The bishop belonged to the party that was dissatisfied with the
terms of the Peace of Utrecht, then pending, and his preface was
clearly written as a vehicle or vent for his political
sentiments. The offensive passage ran as follows: "We were, as
all the world imagined then, just entering on the ways that
promised to lead to such a peace as would have answered all the
prayers of our religious Queen . . . when God, for our sins,
permitted the spirit of discord to go forth, and by troubling
sore the camp, the city, and the country (and oh! that it had
altogether spared the places sacred to His worship!), to spoil
for a time the beautiful and pleasing prospect, and give us, in
its stead, I know not what--our enemies will tell the rest with
pleasure." Writing to Bishop Burnet, he expresses himself still
more strongly: "I am afraid England has lost all her constraining
power, and that France thinks she has us in her hands, and may
use us as she pleases, which, I daresay, will be as scurvily as
we deserve. What a change has two years made! Your lordship may
now imagine you are growing young again; for we are fallen,
methinks, into the very dregs of Charles the Second's politics."
Assuredly Bishop Fleetwood had done better to reserve his
political opinions for private circulation, instead of exposing
them to the world under the guise and shelter of what purported
to be a religious publication.

But he belonged to the age of the great political churchmen, when
the Church played primarily the part of a great political
institution, and her more ambitious members made the profession
of religion subsidiary to the interests of the political party
they espoused. The type is gradually becoming extinct, and the
time is long since past when the preface to a bishop's sermons,
or even his sermons themselves, could convulse the State. One
cannot, for instance, conceive the recurrence of such a commotion
as was raised by Fleetwood or Sacheverell, possible as everything
is in the zigzag course of history. Still less can one conceive a
repetition of such persecution of Dissent as has been illustrated
by the cases of Delaune and Defoe. For either the Church
moderated her hostility to Dissent, or her power to exercise it
lessened; no instance occurring after the reign of Queen Anne of
any book being sentenced to the flames on the side either of
Orthodoxy or Dissent.


[137:1] In _Notes and Queries_ for March 11th, 1854, Mr. James
Graves, of Kilkenny, mentions as in his possession a copy of
Molyneux, considerable portions of which had been consumed by

[150:1] In a letter in his _Vindicius Liberius_ he says: "As for
the Christian religion in general, that book is so far from
calling it in question that it was purposely written for its
service, to defend it against the imputations of contradiction
and obscurity which are frequently objected by its opposers."

[154:1] Wilson's _Defoe_, iii. 52.

[160:1] See Somers' _Tracts_ (1748), VII., 223, and the _Entire
Confutation of Mr. Hoadley's Book_, for the decree itself, and
the authors condemned. After the Rye House Plot, which caused
this decree, Oxford addressed Charles II. as "the breath of our
nostrils, the anointed of the Lord"; Cambridge called him "the
Darling of Heaven!" Could the servility of ultra-loyalty go



The eighteenth century, which saw the abolition, or the beginning
of the abolition, of so many bad customs of the most respectable
lineage and antiquity, saw also the hangman employed for the last
time for the punishment of books. The custom of book-burning,
never formally abolished, died out at last from a gradual decline
of public belief in its efficacy; just as tortures died out, and
judicial ordeals died out, and, as we may hope, even war will die
out, before the silent, disintegrating forces of increasing
intelligence. As our history goes on, one becomes more struck by
the many books which escape burning than by the few which incur
it. The tale of some of those which were publicly burnt during
the eighteenth century has already been told; so that it only
remains to bring together, under their various heads, the
different literary productions which complete the record of
British works thus associated with the memory of the hangman.

After the beginning of the Long Parliament, the House of Commons
constituted itself the chief book-burning authority; but the
House of Lords also, of its own motion, occasionally ordered the
burning of offensive literary productions. Thus, on March 29th,
1642, they sentenced John Bond, for forging a letter purporting
to be addressed to Charles I. at York from the Queen in Holland,
to stand in the pillory at Westminster Hall door and in
Cheapside, with a paper on his head inscribed with "A contriver
of false and scandalous libels," the said letter to be called in
and burnt near him as he stood there.

On December 18th, 1667, they sentenced William Carr, for
dispersing scandalous papers against Lord Gerrard, of Brandon, to
a fine of £1000 to the King, and imprisonment in the Fleet, and
ordered the said papers to be burnt.

On March 17th, 1697, a sentence of burning was voted by them
against a libel called _Mr. Bertie's Case, with some Remarks on
the Judgment Given Therein_.

Sometimes they thought in this way to safeguard not merely truth
in general, or the honour of their House, but also the interests
of religion; as when, on December 8th, 1693, they ordered to be
burnt by the hangman the very next day a pamphlet that had been
sent to several of them, entitled _A Brief but Clear Confutation
of the Trinity_, a copy of which possibly still lies hid in some
private libraries, but about which, not having seen it, I can
offer no judgment. At that time Lords and Commons alike
disquieted themselves much over religious heresy, for in 1698 the
Commons petitioned William III. to suppress pernicious books and
pamphlets directed against the Trinity and other articles of the
Faith, and gave ready assent to a Bill from the Lords "for the
more effectual suppressing of atheism, blasphemy, and
profaneness." But it would seem that these efforts had but a
qualified success, for on February 12th, 1720, the Lords
condemned a work which, "in a daring, impious manner, ridiculed
the doctrine of the Trinity and all revealed religion," and was
called, _A Sober Reply to Mr. Higgs' Merry Arguments from the
Light of Nature for the Tritheistic Doctrine of the Trinity, with
a Postscript relating to the Rev. Dr. Waterland_. This work,
which was the last to be burnt as an offence against religion,
was the work of one Joseph Hall, who was a gentleman and a
serjeant-at-arms to the King, and in this way won his small title
to fame.

By the beginning of the eighteenth century, the House of Lords
had come to assume a more active jurisdiction over the Press.
Thus in 1702, within a few days we find them severely censuring
the notorious Dr. Drake's _History of the Last Parliament, begun
1700_; somebody's _Tom Double, returned out of the Country; or,
The True Picture of a modern Whig_; Dr. Blinke's violent sermon,
preached on January 30th, 1701, before the Lower House of
Convocation; and a pamphlet, inviting over the Elector of
Hanover. In the same month they condemned to be burnt by the
hangman a book entitled, _Animadversions upon the two last 30th
of January Sermons: one preached to the Honourable House of
Commons, the other to the Lower House of Convocation. In a
letter._ They resolved that it was "a malicious, villainous
libel, containing very many reflections on King Charles I., of
ever-blessed memory, and tending to the subversion of the

But the more general practice was for the House of Lords to seek
the concurrence of the other House in the consignment of printed
matter to the flames; a concurrence which in those days was of
far more easy attainment over book-burning or anything else than
it is in our own time, or is ever likely to be in the future. It
would also seem that during the eighteenth century it was
generally the House of Lords that took the initiative in the
time-honoured practice of condemning disagreeable opinions to the
care of the hangman.

The unanimity alluded to between our two Houses was displayed in
several instances. Thus on November 16th, 1722, the Commons
agreed with the resolution of the Peers to have burnt at the
Exchange the Declaration of the Pretender, beginning:
"Declaration of James III., King of England, Scotland, and
Ireland, to all his loving Subjects of the three Nations, and to
all Foreign Princes and States, to serve as a Foundation for a
Lasting Peace in Europe," and signed "James Rex." In this
interesting document, George I. was invited to quietly deliver up
his possession of the British throne in return for James's
bestowal on him of the title of king in his native dominions, and
the ultimate succession to the same title in England. The
indignation of the Peers raised their effusive loyalty to fever
point, and they promptly voted this singular document "a false,
insolent, and traitorous libel, the highest indignity to his
most sacred Majesty King George, our lawful and undoubted
sovereign, full of arrogance and presumption, in supposing the
Pretender in a condition to offer terms to his Majesty; and
injurious to the honour of the British nation, in imagining that
a free, Protestant people, happy under the government of the best
of princes, can be so infatuated as, without the utmost contempt
and indignation, to hear of any terms from a Popish bigoted
Pretender." But was it loyalty or sycophancy that could thus
transmute even George I. into "the best of princes"?

A less serious cause of alarm to their loyalty occurred in 1750,
when certain _Constitutional Queries_ were "earnestly recommended
to the serious consideration of every true Briton." This was
directed against the Duke of Cumberland, of Culloden fame, who
was in it compared to the crooked-backed Richard III.; and it was
generally attributed to Lord Egmont, M.P., as spokesman of the
opposition to the government of George II., then headed by the
Prince of Wales, who died the year following. It caused a great
sensation in both Houses, though several members in the Commons
defended it. Nevertheless, at a conference both Houses voted it
"a false, malicious, scandalous, infamous, and seditious libel,
containing the most false, audacious, and abominable calumnies
and indignities against his Majesty, and the most presumptuous
and wicked insinuations that our laws, liberties, and properties,
and the excellent constitution of this kingdom, were in danger
under his Majesty's legal, mild, and gracious government" . . .
and that "in abhorrence and detestation of such abominable and
seditious practices," it should be burnt in New Palace Yard by
the hangman on January 25th. Even a reward of £1,000 failed to
discover the author, printer, or publisher of this paper, the
condemnation of which rather whets the curiosity than satisfies
the reason. I would shrink from saying that a paper so widely
disseminated no longer exists; but even if it does not, its
non-existence affords no proof that in its time it lacked

But what justification was there for George King, the bookseller,
who a few years later did a very curious thing, actually forging
and publishing a Royal speech--'_His Majesty's most Gracious
Speech to, both Houses of Parliament on Thursday December 2nd,
1756_'? Surely never since the giants of old assaulted heaven,
was there such an invasion of sanctity, or so profane a scaling
of the heights of intellect! What could the Lords do, being a
patriotic body, but vote such an attempt, without even waiting
for a conference with the Commons, "an audacious forgery and high
contempt of his Majesty, his crown and dignity," and condemn the
said forgery to be burnt on the 8th at Westminster, and three
days later at the Exchange? How could they sentence King to less
than six months of Newgate and a fine of £50, though, in their
gentleness or fickleness, they ultimately released him from some
of the former and all the latter penalty? Happy those who possess
this political curiosity, and can compare it with the speech
which the King really did make on the same day, and which,
perhaps, did not show any marked superiority over the forged

The next book-fire to which history brings us is associated with
one of the most important and singular episodes in the annals of
the British Constitution. I allude to the famous _North Briton_,
No. 45, for which, as constituting a seditious libel, Wilkes,
then member for Aylesbury, was, in spite of his privilege as a
member, seized and imprisoned in the Tower (1763). We know from
the experiences of recent times how ready the House of Commons
is to throw Parliamentary or popular privileges to the winds
whenever they stand in the way of political resentment, and so it
was in our fathers' times. For, in spite of a vigorous speech
from Pitt against a surrender of privilege which placed
Parliament entirely at the mercy of the Crown, the Commons voted,
by 258 to 133, that such privilege afforded no protection against
the publication of seditious libels. The House of Lords, of
course, concurred, but not without a protest from the dissentient
minority, headed by Lord Temple, which has the true ring of
political wisdom; and, like so many similar protests, is so
instinct with zeal for public liberty as to atone in some measure
for the fundamental injustice of the existence of an hereditary
chamber. They held it "highly unbecoming the dignity, gravity,
and wisdom of the House of Peers, as well as of their justice,
thus judicially to explain away and diminish the privileges of
their persons," etc.

A few days later (December 1st) a second conference between the
two Houses condemned No. 45 to be burnt at the Royal Exchange by
the common hangman. And so it was on the 3rd, but not without a
riot, which conveys a vivid picture of those "good old" or
turbulent days; for the mob, encouraged by well-dressed people
from the shops and balconies, who cried out, "Well done, boys!
bravely done, boys!" set up such a hissing, that the sheriff's
horses were frightened, and brave Alderman Hurley with difficulty
reached the place where the paper was to be burnt. The mob seized
what they could of the paper from the burning torch of the
executioner, and finally thrashed the officials from the field.
Practically, too, they had thrashed the custom out of existence,
for there were very few such burnings afterwards.

Wilkes was then expelled from the House of Commons; and the same
House, becoming suddenly as tender of its privileges as it had
previously been indifferent to them, passed a resolution, to
which the Attorney-General, Sir Fletcher Norton, was said to have
declared that he would pay no more regard than "to the oaths of
so many drunken porters in Covent Garden," to the effect that a
general warrant for apprehending and seizing the authors,
printers, and publishers of a seditious and treasonable libel was
not warranted by law. Such was the vaunted wisdom of our
ancestors, that, having first decided that there could be no
breach of privilege to protect a seditious libel, they then
asserted the illegality of the very proceedings they had already
justified! Truly they are not altogether in the wrong who deem
that the chief glory of our Constitution lies in its singular

All the numbers of the _North Briton_ especially No. 45, have
high interest as political and literary curiosities. Comparing
even now the King's speech on April 19th, 1763, at the close of
the Seven Years' War, with the passage in No. 45 which contained
the sting of the whole, one feels that Walpole hardly exaggerated
when he said that Wilkes had given "a flat lie to the King
himself." Perhaps so; but are royal speeches as a rule
conspicuous for their truth? The King had said: "My expectations
have been fully answered by the happy effects which the several
allies of my crown have derived from this salutary measure. The
powers at war with my good brother the King of Prussia have been
induced to agree to such terms of accommodation as that great
prince has approved; and the success which has attended my
negotiation has necessarily and immediately diffused the
blessings of peace through every part of Europe." Wilkes's
comment was as follows: "The infamous fallacy of this whole
sentence is apparent to all mankind; for it is known that the
King of Prussia did not barely approve, but absolutely dictated
as conqueror, every article of the terms of peace. No advantage
of any kind has accrued to that magnanimous prince from our
negotiation; but he was basely deserted by the Scottish Prime
Minister of England" (Lord Bute). And, after all, that truth was
on the side of Wilkes rather than of the King is the verdict of

The House of Lords, soon after its unconstitutional attack upon
popular liberties in the case of Wilkes, showed itself as
suddenly enamoured of them a few months later, when Timothy
Brecknock, a hack writer, published his _Droit le Roy_, or a
_Digest of the Rights and Prerogatives of the Imperial Crown of
Great Britain_ (February 1764). Timothy, like Cowell in James
I.'s time, favoured extreme monarchical pretensions, so much to
the offence of the defenders of the people's rights, that they
voted it "a false, malicious, and traitorous libel, inconsistent
with the principles of the Revolution to which we owe the present
happy establishment, and an audacious insult upon His Majesty,
whose paternal care has been so early and so effectually shown
to the religion, laws, and liberties of his people; tending to
subvert the fundamental laws and liberties of these kingdoms and
to introduce an illegal and arbitrary power." The Commons
concurred with the Lords in condemning a copy to the flames at
Westminster Palace Yard and the Exchange on February 25th and
27th respectively; and the book is consequently so rare that for
practical purposes it no longer exists. Sad to say, the Royalist
author came to as bad an end as his book, for in his own person
as well he came to require the attentions of the hangman for a
murder he committed in Ireland.

The next work which the Lower House concurred with the Upper in
consigning to the hangman was _The Present Crisis with regard to
America Considered_ (February 24th, 1775); but of this book the
fate it met with seems now the only ascertainable fact about it.
It appears to enjoy the real distinction of having been the last
book condemned by Parliament in England to the flames; although
that honour has sometimes been claimed for the _Commercial
Restraints of Ireland_, by Provost Hely Hutchinson (1779); a
claim which will remain to be considered after a brief survey of
the works which in Scotland the wisdom of Parliament saw fit to
punish by fire.

The first order of this sort was dated November 16th, 1700, and
sentenced to be burnt by the hangman at Mercat Cross His
Majesty's _High Commission and Estates of Parliament_.

In the same way was treated _A Defence of the Scots abdicating
Darien, including an Answer to the Defence of the Scots
Settlement there_, and _A Vindication_ of the same pamphlet, both
by Walter Herries, who was ordered to be apprehended. More
interesting to read would doubtless be a lampoon, said to reflect
on everything sacred to Scotland, and burnt accordingly, which
was called _Caledonia; or, the Pedlar turned Merchant_.

Dr. James Drake, whose _Memorial of the Church of England_ was
burnt in England in 1705, published a work two years earlier
which stirred the Scotch Parliament to the same fiery point of
indignation. This was his already mentioned _Historia
Anglo-Scotica: an impartial History of all that happened between
the Kings and Kingdoms of England and Scotland from the beginning
of the Reign of William the Conqueror to the Reign of Queen
Elizabeth_ (1703). This stout volume of 423 pages Drake printed
without any date or name, pretending that the manuscript had
come to him in such a way that it was impossible to trace its
authorship. He dedicated it to Sir Edward Seymour, one of Queen
Anne's commissioners for the then meditated and unpopular union
between the two kingdoms. It gave the gravest offence, and was
burnt at the Mercat Cross on June 30th for containing "many
reflections on the sovereignty and independence of this crown and
nation." But, apart from the history that attaches to it, I doubt
if any one could regard it with interest.

No less offence was given to Scotland by the English Whig writer
William Attwood, whose _Superiority and Direct Dominion of the
Imperial Crown of England over the Crown and Kingdom of Scotland,
the true Foundation of a Compleat Union reasserted_ (1704), was
burnt as "scurrilous and full of falsehoods," whilst a liberal
reward was voted to Hodges and Anderson, who by their pens had
advocated the independence of the Scotch crown. Ten years later
Attwood contributed another work to the flames, called _The
Scotch Patriot Unmasked_ (1715). Attwood was a barrister by
profession, a controversialist in practice, writing against the
theories of Filmer and the Tories. He had a great knowledge of
old charters, and wrote an able but inconclusive answer to
Molyneux' _Case for Ireland_. He last appears as Chief Justice in
New York, where he became involved in debt and died.

In 1706 two works were condemned to the Mercat Cross: (1) _An
Account of the Burning of the Articles of Union at Dumfries_; (2)
_Queries to the Presbyterian Noblemen, Barons, Burgesses,
Ministers, and Commissioners in Scotland who are for the Scheme
of an Incorporating Union with England_.

Hutchinson's _Commercial Restraints of Ireland_, published in
1779, and reviewing the progress of English misgovernment, proved
the correctness of Molyneux' prognostications nearly a century
before. "Can the history of any fruitful country on the globe,"
he asked (and the question may be asked still), "enjoying peace
for fourscore years, and not visited by plague or pestilence,
produce so many recorded instances of the poverty and
wretchedness and of the reiterated want and misery of the lower
orders of the people? There is no such example in ancient or
modern history."

That a book of such sentiments should have been burnt, as easier
so to deal with than to answer, would accord well enough with
antecedent probability; but, inasmuch as there is no such record
in the Commons' _Journals_, the probability must remain that
Captain Valentine Blake, M.P. for Galway, who, in a letter to the
_Times_ of February 14th, 1846, appears to have been the first to
assert the fact, erroneously identified the fate of Hutchinson's
anonymous work with the then received version of the fate of the
work of Molyneux. The rarity of the first edition of the
_Commercial Restraints_ may well enough accord with other methods
of suppression than burning.

_The Present Crisis_, therefore, of 1775, must retain the
distinction of having been the last book to be condemned to the
public fire; and with it a practice which can appeal for its
descent to classical Greece and Rome passed at last out of
fashion and favour, without any actual legislative abolition.
When, in 1795, the great stir was made by Reeve's _Thoughts on
English Government_, Sheridan's proposal to have it burnt met
with little approval, and it escaped with only a censure. Reeve,
president of an association against Republicans and Levellers,
like Cowell and Brecknock before him, gave offence by the extreme
claims he made for the English monarch. The relation between our
two august chambers and the monarchy he compared to that between
goodly branches and the tree itself: they were only branches,
deriving their origin and nutriment from their common parent; but
though they might be lopped off, the tree would remain a tree
still. The Houses could give advice and consent, but the
Government and its administration in all its parts rested wholly
and solely with the King and his nominees. That a book of such
sentiments should have escaped burning is doubtless partly due to
the panic of Republicanism then raging in England; but it also
shows the gradual growth of a sensible indifference to the power
of the pen.

And when we think of the freedom, almost unchecked, of the
literature of the century now closing, of the impunity with which
speculation attacks the very roots of all our political and
theological traditions, and compare this state of liberty with
the servitude of literature in the three preceding centuries,
when it rested with archbishop or Commons or Lords not only to
commit writings to the flames but to inflict cruelties and
indignities on the writers, we cannot but recognise how
proportionate to the advance we have made in toleration have been
the benefits we have derived from it. Possibly this toleration
arose from the gradual discovery that the practical consequences
of writings seldom keep pace with the aim of the writer or the
fears of authority; that, for instance, neither is property
endangered by literary demonstrations of its immorality, nor are
churches emptied by criticism. At all events, taking the risk of
consequences, we have entered on an era of almost complete
literary impunity; the bonfire is as extinct as the pillory; the
only fiery ordeal is that of criticism, and dread of the reviewer
has taken the place of all fear of the hangman.

Whether the change is all gain, or the milder method more
effectual than the old one, I would hesitate to affirm. He would
be a bold man who would assert any lack of burnworthy books. The
older custom had perhaps a certain picturesqueness which was lost
with it. It was a bit of old English life, reaching far back into
history--a custom that would have been not unworthy of the brush
of Hogarth. For all that we cannot regret it. The practice became
so common, and lent itself so readily to abuse by its
indiscriminate application in the interests of religious bigotry
or political partisanship, that the lesson of history is one of
warning against it. Such a practice is only defensible or
impressive in proportion to the rarity of its use. Applied not
oftener than once or twice in a generation, in the case of some
work that flagrantly shocked or injured the national conscience,
the book-fire might have retained, or might still recover, its
place in the economy of well-organised States; and the stigma it
failed of by reason of its frequency might still attach to it by
reason of its rarity.

If, then, it were possible (as it surely would be) so to regulate
and restrict its use that it should serve only as the last
expression of the indignation of an offended community instead of
the ready weapon of a party or a clique, one can conceive its
revival being not without utility. To take an illustration. With
the ordinary daily libels of the public press the community as
such has no concern; there is no need to grudge them their
traditional impunity. But supposing a newspaper, availing itself
of an earlier reputation and a wide circulation, to publish as
truths, highly damaging to individuals, what it knows or might
know to be forgeries, the limit has clearly been overstepped of
the bearable liberty of the press; the cause of the injured
individual becomes the cause of the injured community, insulted
by the unscrupulous advantage that has been taken of its
trustfulness and of its inability to judge soundly where all the
data for a sound judgment are studiously withheld. Such an action
is as much and as flagrant a crime or offence against the
community as an act of robbery or murder, which, though primarily
an injury to the individual, is primarily avenged as an injury to
the State. As such it calls for punishment, nor could any
punishment be more appropriate than one which caused the
offending newspaper to atone by dishonour for the dishonour it
sought to inflict. Condemnation by Parliament to the flames would
exactly meet the exigencies of a case so rare and exceptional,
and would succeed in inflicting that disgrace of which such a
punishment often formerly failed by very reason of its too
frequent application.


After the conspiracy, known as the Rye House Plot, to kill
Charles II. and his brother, the Duke of York, the University of
Oxford ordered the public burning of books which ran counter to
the doctrine of the Divine right of kings. As the decree is a
literary and political curiosity of the highest order, and not
easily accessible, I here transcribe it from Lord Somers'
_Tracts_. The authors whose books were condemned are sometimes
referred to quite generally, so that some are difficult to
identify, but the following appear to be the principal ones that
incurred the fiery indignation of the University:--1.
Rutherford's _Lex Rex_; 2. G. Buchanan's _De Jure Regni apud
Scotos_; 3. Bellarmine's _De Potestate Papæ_, and his _De
Conciliis et Ecclesiâ Militante_; 4. Milton's _Eikonoklastes_,
and his _Defensio Populi Anglicani_; 5. Goodwin's _Obstructours
of Justice_; 6. Baxter's _Holy Commonwealth_; 7. Dolman's
_Succession_; 8. Hobbes' _De Cive_ and _Leviathan_.

     _The Judgment and Decree of the University of Oxford,
     passed in their Convocation, July 21, 1683, against
     certain pernicious books, and damnable doctrines,
     destructive to the sacred persons of princes, their
     State and Government, and of all Human Society._

     "Although the barbarous assassination lately
     enterprised against the person of his sacred majesty
     and his royal brother, engages all our thoughts to
     reflect with utmost detestation and abhorrence on that
     execrable villainy, hateful to God and man, and pay our
     due acknowledgments to the Divine Providence, which, by
     extraordinary methods, brought it to pass, that the
     breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord, is
     not taken in the pit which was prepared for him, and
     that under his shadow we continue to live and to enjoy
     the blessings of his government; yet, notwithstanding,
     we find it to be a necessary duty at this time to
     search into and lay open those impious doctrines, which
     having been of late studiously disseminated, gave rise
     and growth to those nefarious attempts, and pass upon
     them our solemn public censure and decree of

     "Therefore, to the honour of the holy and undivided
     Trinity, the preservation of Catholic truth in the
     Church, and that the king's majesty may be secured both
     from the attempts of open bloody enemies and
     machinations of treacherous heretics and schismatics,
     we, the vice-chancellor, doctors, proctors, and masters
     regent, met in convocation, in the accustomed manner,
     the one and twentieth day of July, in the year 1683,
     concerning certain propositions contained in divers
     books and writings, published in the English and also
     in the Latin tongue, repugnant to the Holy Scriptures,
     decrees of councils, writings of the fathers, the faith
     and profession of the primitive Church, and also
     destruction of the kingly government, the safety of his
     Majesty's person, the public peace, the laws of nature,
     and bonds of human society, by our unanimous assent and
     consent, have decreed and determined in manner and form

     "The 1st Proposition.--All civil authority is derived
     originally from the people.

     "2. There is a mutual compact, tacit or express,
     between a prince and his subjects, that if he perform
     not his duty, they are discharged from theirs.

     "3. That if lawful governors become tyrants, or govern
     otherwise than by the laws of God and man they ought to
     do, they forfeit the right they had unto their
     government.--_Lex Rex_; _Buchanan, de Jure Regni_;
     _Vindiciæ contra tyrannos_; _Bellarmine, de Conciliis,
     de Pontifice_; _Milton_; _Goodwin_; _Baxter_; _H. C._

     "4. The sovereignty of England is in the three estates,
     viz., Kings, Lords, and Commons. The king has but a
     co-ordinate power, and may be overruled by the other
     two.--_Lex Rex_; _Hunter_, of a united and mixed
     monarchy. _Baxter, H. C. Polit. Catechis._

     "5. Birthright and proximity of blood give no title to
     rule or government, and it is lawful to preclude the
     next heir from his right and succession to the
     crown.--_Lex Rex_; _Hunt's Postscript_; _Doleman's
     History of Succession_; _Julian the Apostate_; _Mene

     "6. It is lawful for subjects, without the consent, and
     against the command, of the supreme magistrate, to
     enter into leagues, covenants, and associations, for
     defence of themselves and their religion.--_Solemn
     League and Covenant_; _Late Association_.

     "7. Self-preservation is the fundamental law of nature,
     and supersedes the obligation of all others, whensoever
     they stand in competition with it.--_Hobbes' de Cive_;

     "8. The doctrine of the gospel concerning patient
     suffering of injuries is not inconsistent with violent
     resisting of the higher powers in case of persecution
     for religion.--_Lex Rex_; _Julian Apostate_; _Apolog.

     "9. There lies no obligation upon Christians to passive
     obedience, when the prince commands anything against
     the laws of our country; and the primitive Christians
     chose rather to die than resist, because Christianity
     was not settled by the laws of the Empire.--_Julian

     "10. Possession and strength give a right to govern,
     and success in a cause, or enterprise, proclaims it to
     be lawful and just; to pursue it is to comply with the
     will of God, because it is to follow the conduct of His
     providence.--_Hobbes_; _Owen's Sermon before the
     Regicides, Jan. 31, 1648_; _Baxter_; _Jenkin's
     Petition, Oct. 1651_.

     "11. In the state of nature there is no difference
     between good and evil, right and wrong; the state of
     nature is the state of war, in which every man hath a
     right to all things.

     "12. The foundation of civil authority is this natural
     right, which is not given, but left to the supreme
     magistrate upon men's entering into societies; and not
     only a foreign invader, but a domestic rebel, puts
     himself again into a state of nature to be proceeded
     against, not as a subject, but an enemy, and
     consequently acquires by his rebellion the same right
     over the life of his prince, as the prince for the most
     heinous crimes has over the life of his own subjects.

     "13. Every man, after his entering into a society,
     retains a right of defending himself against force, and
     cannot transfer that right to the commonwealth when he
     consents to that union whereby a commonwealth is made;
     and in case a great many men together have already
     resisted the commonwealth, for which every one of them
     expecteth death, they have liberty then to join
     together to assist and defend one another. This bearing
     of arms subsequent to the first breach of their duty,
     though it be to maintain what they have done, is no new
     unjust act, and if it be only to defend their persons,
     is not unjust at all.

     "14. An oath superadds no obligation to fact, and a
     fact obliges no further than it is credited; and
     consequently if a prince gives any indication that he
     does not believe the promises of fealty and allegiance
     made by any of his subjects, they are thereby freed
     from their subjection; and, notwithstanding their pacts
     and oaths, may lawfully rebel against, and destroy
     their sovereign.--_Hobbes' de Cive_; _Leviathan_.

     "15. If a people, that by oath and duty are obliged to
     a sovereign, shall sinfully dispossess him, and,
     contrary to their covenants, choose and covenant with
     another, they may be obliged by their later covenants,
     notwithstanding their former.--_Baxter_; _H. C._

     "16. All oaths are unlawful and contrary to the Word of

     "17. An oath obligeth not in the sense of the imposer,
     but the taker's.--_Sheriff's Case._

     "18. Dominion is founded in grace.

     "19. The powers of this world are usurpations upon the
     prerogative of Jesus Christ; and it is the duty of
     God's people to destroy them, in order to the setting
     Christ upon His throne.--_Fifth Monarchy Men._

     "20. The presbyterian government is the sceptre of
     Christ's kingdom, to which kings, as well as others,
     are bound to submit; and the king's supremacy in
     ecclesiastical affairs, asserted by the Church of
     England, is injurious to Christ, the sole King and Head
     of His Church.--_Altare Damascenum_; _Apolog. Relat.
     Hist. Indulg._; _Cartwright_; _Travers_.

     "21. It is not lawful for superiors to impose anything
     in the worship of God that is not antecedently

     "22. The duty of not offending a weak brother is
     inconsistent with all human authority of making laws
     concerning indifferent things.--_Protest. Reconciler._

     "23. Wicked kings and tyrants ought to be put to death;
     and if the judges and inferior magistrates will not do
     their office, the power of the sword devolves to the
     people; if the major part of the people refuse to
     exercise this power, then the ministers may
     excommunicate such a king; after which it is lawful for
     any of the subjects to kill him, as the people did
     Athaliah, and Jehu Jezebel.--_Buchanan_; _Knox_;
     _Goodman_; _Gibby_; _Jesuits_.

     "24. After the sealing of the Scripture-canon the
     people of God in all ages are to expect new revelations
     for a rule of their actions (_a_); and it is lawful for
     a private man, having an inward motion from God, to
     kill a tyrant (_b_).--(_a_) _Quakers and other
     Enthusiasts._ (_b_) _Goodman._

     "25. The example of Phineas is to us instead of a
     command; for what God hath commanded or approved in one
     age must needs oblige in all.--_Goodman_; _Knox_;

     "26. King Charles the First was lawfully put to death,
     and his murderers were the blessed instruments of God's
     glory in their generation.--_Milton_; _Goodwin_;

     "27. King Charles the First made war upon his
     Parliament; and in such a case the king may not only be
     resisted, but he ceaseth to be king.--_Baxter._

     "We decree, judge, and declare all and every of these
     propositions to be false, seditious, and impious; and
     most of them to be also heretical and blasphemous,
     infamous to Christian religion, and destructive of all
     government in Church and State.

     "We further decree, That the books which contain the
     aforesaid propositions and impious doctrines are fitted
     to deprave good manners, corrupt the minds of unwary
     men, stir up seditions and tumults, overthrow states
     and kingdoms, and lead to rebellion, murder of princes,
     and atheism itself; and therefore we interdict all
     members of the university from the reading of the said
     books, under the penalties in the statutes expressed.
     We also order the before-recited books to be publicly
     burnt by the hand of our marshal, in the court of our

     "Likewise we order, that, in perpetual memory hereof,
     these our decrees shall be entered into the registry of
     our convocation; and that copies of them being
     communicated to the several colleges and halls within
     this university, they be there publicly affixed in the
     libraries, refectories, or other fit places, where they
     may be seen and read of all.

     "Lastly, we command and strictly enjoin all and
     singular, the readers, tutors, catechists, and others
     to whom the care and trust of institution of youth is
     committed, that they diligently instruct and ground
     their scholars in that most necessary doctrine, which,
     in a manner, is the badge and character of the Church
     of England, of submitting to every ordinance of man for
     the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king as supreme,
     or unto governors as unto them that are sent by him,
     for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of
     them that do well; teaching that this submission and
     obedience is to be clear, absolute, and without
     exception of any state or order of men. Also that they,
     according to the Apostle's precept, exhort, that first
     of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and
     giving of thanks be made for all men, for the king, and
     all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and
     peaceable life in all godliness and honesty; for this
     is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
     and in especial manner that they press and oblige them
     humbly to offer their most ardent and daily prayers at
     the throne of grace, for the preservation of our
     Sovereign Lord King Charles from the attempts of open
     violence and secret machinations of perfidious
     traitors; that the defender of the faith, being safe
     under the defence of the Most High, may continue his
     reign on earth till he exchange it for that of a late
     and happy immortality."


     Abelard, all his books burnt, 5.

     Allen (Cardinal), 37.

     Archer (John), of All Hallows, Lombard Street, 106.

     Asgill (John), his book burnt by two Parliaments, 144-47.

     Attwood (William), the English Whig, 184.

     Aubigné (D'), his _Histoire Universelle_, 19.

     Bale (Bishop), 29.

     Barnes, 29.

     Bastwick (the physician), 81-92.

     Beaumarchais, his _Memoirs_ condemned to the flames, 22.

     Becon, 29.

     Bellarmine, his _Tractatus_ condemned by the Parliament of
         Paris, 64.

     Bernier (Abbé) _pseud._, 13.

     Best (Paul), prisoner at the Gatehouse, 107-109.

     Bidle (a tailor's son), 110.

     Bissendorf burnt, as well as his books, 9.

     Boncerf, 21.

     _Book-fires of the Sixteenth Century_, 25-47.
       _under James I._, 48-68.
       _under Charles I._, 69-93.
       _of the Rebellion_, 94-116.
       _of the Restoration_, 117-135.
       _of the Revolution_, 136-169.
       (_our last_), 170-190.

     Boulanger, _Christianisme dévoilé_, 15.

     Boyse, his sermon burnt by the hangman, 166.

     Brecknock (Timothy), 181.

     Buchanan (David), 101.

     Buchanan (George), 58, 123.

     Burton, the divine, 81-92.

     Bury (Rev. Arthur), 141-43.

     Busenbaum (the Jesuit), 17.

     Calamy (Dr.), 131.

     Carr (William), 171.

     Cellier (Elizabeth), 134.

     _Charles I.'s Book-fires_, 69-93.

     Clarkson (Laurence), 114.

     Claude, his _Plaintes des Protestants_, 134.

     Clendon (John), 159.

     Coke (Sir Edward), 57.

     _Constitutional Queries_ (1750), 175.

     Coppe (Ebiezer), 114.

     Coverdale (Bishop), 29.

     Coward (Dr.), 147, 148.

     Cowell (Dr.), 28, 54-59.

     _Crisis, the Present_ (1775), 182, 186.

     Cumberland (Duke of), of Culloden, compared with Richard
         III., 175.

     Cutwode, his _Caltha Poetarum_, 41.

     Davies (Sir John), 41, 44.

     Declaration of James III., 174.

     Defoe (Daniel), 152-4.

     Delaune, his _Plea for the Nonconformists_, 130-34.

     Dering (Sir Edward), 98.

     Derodon, Professor at Nismes, 12.

     Deslandes, 17.

     Despériers, 7.

     Digby (Lord), 99.

     Dolet, 8.

     Doleman's _Conference_, 37.

     Dominis (Marcus Antonius de), 9.

     Drake (Dr. James), 155-57, 173, 183.

     Dufresnoy, 17.

     Dulaurent, an apostate monk, 13.

     Emmius, his posthumous book, 21.

     Enjedim, the Hungarian Socialist, 6.

     Falkland (Lord), 101.

     Fleetwood (William), Bishop of St. Asaph, 167.

     Fish's _Supplication of Beggars_, 36.

     Freret, 15.

     Froude (J. A.), his _Nemesis of Faith_ burned, 144.

     Frith, 29.

     Fry (John), M.P., 103, 4.

     Génébrard (Archbishop), 18.

     Gerberon, 12.

     Giannone, his _Historia Civile_, 21.

     Gigli, his _Vocabulario_, 17.

     Goodwin (John), prolific writer, 117-122.

     Hall (Bishop), 41, 2, 3.

     Hall (Joseph), serjeant-at-arms, 172.

     Helot, his _L'Ecole des Filles_, 17.

     Herries (Walter), 183.

     Holbach (Baron d'), 15.

     Humphrey (John), 154.

     Huss (John), 6.

     Hutchinson (Provost Hely), 182, 185.

     _James I., Book-fires under_, 48-68.

     James III., Declaration of, 174.

     Joly (Claude), 20.

     Joye, 29.

     _Justiciarius justificatus_, 101.

     Keller, the Jesuit, 19.

     Kentish Petition (1642), 100.

     King (George), the bookseller, 176.

     Knewstub, his _Confutation_ (1579), 33.

     La Mettrie (De), 14.

     Langle (Marquis de), 13.

     Lanjuinais, 22.

     La Peyrère imprisoned, 12.

     Leighton (Alexander), 75.

     Le Noble (Eustache), 20.

     Lilburne (John), 88, 102.

     Linguet, 14.

     Locke (John), 127-29.

     _Love, Family of_, 32.

     Luther, 7, 28.

     Lyser, advocate of polygamy, 17.

     Mantuanus, the Carmelite, 16.

     Manwaring (Roger), 69-71.

     Mariana, the Jesuit, 18.

     Marivaux (Martin de), 22.

     Marlowe (Christopher), 41, 42.

     Martin Marprelate, 37.

     Marston (John), 41, 42.

     _Mercurius Elenchicus_, 101.

     _Mercurius Pragmaticus_, 101.

     Meslier (Jean), 14.

     Milton, 20, 90, 118-22.

     Mocket (Richard), 61.

     Molinos, founder of Quietism, 11.

     Molyneux (William), his _Case for Ireland_, 136-40.

     Mondonville (Madame de), 21.

     Montagu (Richard), anti-Puritan, 71-3.

     Morin (Simon), 10.

     Morisot, 10.

     Muggleton (Ludovic), 115, 116.

     Niclas (Hendrick), of Leyden, 32.

     _North Briton_ (No. 45), 177.

     Okeford (James), 102.

     Orléans (Louis d'), 18.

     Osma (Peter d'), 7.

     Oxford (University of) Decree against certain pernicious
         books, 192.

     Paræus (David), 60.

     _Parliament's Ten Commandments_, 101.

     _Parliament's Pater Noster_, 101.

     Parsons (Robert), the Jesuit, 37, 39.

     Pascal, 12.

     Peignot, the historian of Condemned Books, 2.

     Pidanzet, 21.

     Pocklington (Dr. John), 95-8.

     Pomponacius, 7.

     Porphyry, 5.

     Primatt (Joseph), 102.

     Prynne (William), 30, 77-93.

     _Racovian Catechism_, 111-13.

     Raleigh (Sir Walter), 59.

     Raynal (Abbé), 23.

     Reboulet, 21.

     Reeves' _Thoughts on English Government_, 186.

     Rousseau, 13.

     Rowlands (Samuel), 45.

     Rutherford (Samuel), 122.

     Rye House Plot, Decree against pernicious books, 191.

     Sacheverell (Henry), 157-61.

     Sainte Foi, 12.

     Salmasius, 119.

     Sanctarel, the Jesuit, 20.

     Schlicttingius, 11.

     Scioppius, 18.

     Scot (Reginald), one of the heroes of the world, 49-53.

     Servetus, his burning, 8.

     Squitinio, 19.

     Stubbs (John), 35.

     Suarez, 64.

     Talbert (Abbé), 17.

     Théophile, 16.

     Thomas (William), 30.

     Thornborough (Bishop), 57.

     Tindal (Matthew), 159, 161-63.

     Toland, 149.

     Toussaint, 17.

     Tracy, 29.

     Turner, 29.

     Tyndale (William), 9, 28, 75.

     Voet, professor of theology, 51.

     Voltaire, contributed more books to the flames than any
         other author of the eighteenth century, 15.

     Vorst (Conrad), 66.

     Wentworth (Peter), 39.

     Wicliff, 29.

     Wilkes (John), and the _North Briton_, 177.

     Williams (John), 46, 47.

     Wither (George), 101.

     Wolkelius, friend of Socinus, 11.

     Woolston, his Discourse on Miracles, 15.

_Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, London, E.C._


The original book has a rooster bookplate illustration at the
beginning and an owl bookplate at the end. Each chapter begins
and ends with a decorative woodcut.

The following words use an oe ligature in the original:


The following corrections have been made to the text:

     Page 3: could not himself either affirm[original has
     ffiarm] or deny

     Page 35: same penalty as its author.[period missing in

     Page 136: William Molyneux's[apostrophe and final "s"
     missing in original] Case for Ireland

     Page 176: [original has extraneous quotation mark]both
     Houses of Parliament on Thursday

     Page 176: December 2nd, 1756'[original has double

     Page 194: Hobbes'[apostrophe missing in original] de

     Page 196: Hobbes'[apostrophe missing in original] de

     Page 196: _Apolog. Relat. Hist. Indulg._[period missing
     in original]

     Page 201: Abelard[original has Abela d], all his books
     burnt, 5.

     Page 203: Génébrard[original has Génébrazd]
     (Archbishop), 18.

     Page 203: Helot, his L'Ecole[original has L'Escole] des
     Filles, 17.

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