Abbildungen der Seite

whereby we may guess how they unchaste. Thus much may give us censured libelling; and this course light after what sort of books were was quick enough, as Cicero writes, prohibited among the Greeks. The to quell both the desperate wits of Romans also for many ages trained other atheists, and the open way of up only to a military roughness, re. defaming, as the event showed. Of sembling most the Lacedæmonian other sects and opinions, though guise, knew of learning little but tending to voluptuousness, and the what their twelve tables and the denying of divine providence, they pontific college with their augurs took no heed. Therefore we do not and flamins taught them in religion read that either Epicurus, or that and law; so unacquainted with other libertine schoul of Cyrene, or what learning, that when Carneades and the Cynic impudence uttered, was Critolaus, with the stoic Diogenes, ever questioned by the laws. Nei coming embassadors to Rome, took ther is it recorded, that the writings thereby occasion to give the city a of those old comedians were sup- taste of their philosophy, they were pressed, though the acting of them suspected for seducers by no less a were forbid, and that Plato com man than Cato the censor, who mended the reading of Aristophanes, moved it in the senate to dismiss the loosest of them all, to his royal them speedily, and to banish all scholar Dionysius, is commonly such Attic babblers out of Italy. known, and may be excused, if holy But Scipio and others of the noblest Chrysostom, as is reported, nightly senators withstood him and his old studied so much the same author, Sabine austerity ; honoured and adand had the art to cleanse a scurri- mired the men ; and the censor himlous vehemence into the style of a self at last, in his old age, fell to the rousing sermon! That other leading study of that whereof before he was city of Greece, Lacedæmon, consi- so scrupulous. And yet at the same dering that Lycurgus their law giver time, Nævius and Plautus, the first was so addicted to elegant learning, latin comedians, had filled the city as to have been the first that brought with all the borrowed scenes of Me out of Ionia the scattered works of nander and Philemon. Then began Homer, and sent the poet Thales to be considered there also what was from Crete to prepare and mollify the to be done to libellous books and Spartan surliness with his smooth authors; for Nævias was quickly songs and odes, the better to plant cast into prison for his unbridled among them law and civility; it is pen, and released by the tribunes to be wondered how museless and upon his recantation; we read also unbookish they were, minding nought that libels were hurnt, and the mabut the feats of war. There needed kers punished by Augustus. The no licensing of books among them, like severity, no doubt, was used, if for they disliked all but their own aught were impiously written against laconic apophthegms, and took a their esteemed gods. Except in these slight occasion to chase Archilocus two points, how the world went in out of their city, perhaps for compo, books, the magistrate kept no reckonsing in a higher strain than their ing. And therefore Lucretius, withown soldiery, ballads, and roundels, out impeachment, versifies his Epicould reach to; or if it were for his curism to Memmius, and had the broad verses, they were not therein honour to be set forth the second so cautious, but they were as disso- time by Cicero, so great a father of lute in their promiscuous conversing; the commonwealth ; although himwhence Euripides affirms in Andro- self disputes against that opinion id mache, that their women were all his own writings. Nor was the satirical sharpness or naked plainness cil. After which time the popes of of Lucilius, or Catullus, or Flaccus, Rome, engrossing what they pleased by any order prohibited. And for of political rule into their own hands, matters of state, the story of Titus extended their dominion over men's Livius, though it extolled that part eyes, as they had before over their which Pompey held, was not there- judgments, burning and prohibiting fore suppressed by Octavius Cæsar, to be read what they fancied not ; of the other faction. But that Naso yet sparing in their censures, and was by him banished in his old age, the books pot many which they so for the wanton poems of his youth, dealt with ; till Martin the fifth, by was but a mere covert of state over his bull not only prohibited, but some secret cause; and besides, the was the first that excommunicated books were neither banished nor the reading of heretical books; for called in. From hence we shall about that time Wickliffe and Husse meet with little else but lyranny in growing terrible, were they who first the Roman empire, that we may not drove the papal court to a stricter marvel, if not so often bad as good policy of probibiting. Which course books were silenced. I shall there- Leo the tenth and his successors fore deein to have been large enough, followed, until the council of Trent, in producing what among the an- and the Spanish inquisition engencients was punishable to write, save dering together, brought forth or only which, all other arguments perfected those catalogues and exwere free to treat on.

purging indexes, that rake through By this time the Emperors were the entrails of many an old good become christians, whose discipline author, with a violation worse than in this point I do not find to have any could be offered to his tomb. been more severe than what was for Nor did they stay in inatters heremerly in practice. The books of tical, but any subject, that was not those whom they took to be grand to their palate, they either conhereties were examined, refuted, and demned in a prohibition, or had it condemned in the general councils; straight into the new purgatory of an and not till then were prohibited, or index. To till up the measure of burnt by authority of the Emperor. encroachment, their last invention As for the writings of heathen au. was to ordain that no book, pamphthors, unless they were plain invec- let, or paper, should be printed (as tives against christianity, as those if St. Peter bad bequeathed them the of Porphyrius and Proclus, they met key's of the press also as well as of with no interdict that can be cited, Paradise) unless it were approved

till about the year 400, in a Cartha- and licensed under the hands of two -ginian council, wherein bishops them or three gluttonous friars, For ex

selves were forbid to read the books ample: of géntiles, but heresies they might “ Let the Chancellor Cini be pleased read; while others long before them to see if in this present work be on the contrary scrupled more the contained aught that may with books of heretics, than of gentiles. · stand the printing; And that the primitive councils and

Vincent Rabbata, vicar of bishops were wont only to declare

Florence. what books were not commendable, “I have secn this present work, and passing no further, but leaving it to find nothing athwart the catholic each one's conscience to read or to faith and good manners; in witlay by, till after the year 300, is ness whereof I have given, &c. observed already by Padre Paolo the

Nicolo Cini, Chancellor of great unmasker of the Trentine coun


“ Attending the preceding relation, foremost in the achievments of li

it is allowed that this present work berty, will not easily find servile of Davanzati may be printed," letters enow to spell such a dictatory

Vincent Rabatta, &c. presumption englished. And thus “It may be printed, July 15." ye have the inventors, and the ori.

Friar Simon Mompei d'Amelia, ginal of book licensing ripped up and

Chancellor of the holy office in drawn as lineally as any pedigree.

We have it not, that can be heard Sure they have a conceit, if he of cf, from any ancient state, or polity, the bottomless pit had not long since or church, nor by any statute left broke prison, that this quadruple us by our ancestors elder or later; exorcism would bar him down. I nor from the modern custom of any fear their next design will be to get reformed city or church abroad ; into their custody the licensing of but from the most antichristian counthat which they say Claudius in- cil, and the most tyrannous inquisttended* but went not through with. tion, that ever inquired. Till then Vouchsafe to see another of their books were ever as freely admitted forms, the Roman stamp;

into the world as any other birth; Imprimatur, If it seem good to the the issue of the brain was no more

reverend master of the holy pa- stifled than the issue of the womb;

lace, Belcastro, Vicegerent. no envious Juno sat crosslegged over • Imprimatur.”

the nativity of any man's intellectual Friar Nicholo Rodolphi, master offspring ; but if it proped a mon

of the holy palace. Toster, who denies but that it was! Sometimes five imprimaturs are justly burnt, or sunk into the sea ? seen together dialogue wise in the But that a book, in worse condition piatza of one titlepage, compliment than a peccant soul, should be to ing and ducking each to other with stand before a jury ere it be born to their shaven reverences, wbether the the world, and undergo yet in darkauthor, who stands by in perplexityness the judgment of Radamanth at the foot of his cpistle, shall to the and his colleagues, ere it can pass press or to the spunge. These are the ferry backward into light, was the pretty responsories, these are never heard before, till that mystethe dear antiphonies, that so be- rious iniquity, provoked and trouwitched of late our prelates and bled at the first entrance of reformatheir chaplains, with the goodly echo tion, sought out new limboes and they made; and besotted us to the new hells wherein they mightinclude gay imitation of a lorelly imprima- our books also within the number of tur, one from Lambeth-house, ano- their damned. And this was the ther from the west end of Paul's ; so rare morsel so officiously snatched apishly romanizing, that the word up, and so illfavouredly imitated by of command still was set down in our inquisiturient bishops, and the Latin; as if the learned grammatical attendant minorities, their chaplains. pen that wrote it would cast no ink That ye like not now these most without Latin ;'or perhaps, as they certain authors of this licensing thought, because no vulgar tongue order, and that all sinister intention was worthy to express the pure con- was far distant from your thoughts, ceit of an imprimatur; but rather, when ye were importuned the pasas I hope, for that our English, the sing it, all men who know the intelanguage of men ever famous and grity of your actions, and how ye

* Quo veniam daret flatum crepitum honour truth, will clear ye readily. que ventris in convivio emitiendi.'

But some will say, what thouglı Sueton, in Claudio. the inventors were bad, the thing for all that may be good. It may sn; man may say, to coin all the seven yet if that thing be no such deep in- liberal sciences out of the Bible, revention, but obvious and easy for ducing it into diverse forms of oraany man to light on, and yet best tions, poems, dialogues, even to the and wisest commonwealths through calculating of a new christian gramall ages and occasions have forborn mar. But saith the historian Soto use it, and falsest seducers and crates, the providence of God prooppressors of men were the first who vided better than the industry of took it up, and to no other purpose Appollinarius and his son, by taking but to obstruct and hinder the first away that illiterate law with the life approach of reformation; I am of of him who devised it. So great an those who believe, it will be a harder injury they then held it to be deprived alchymy than Lullius ever knew, to of Hellenic learning; and thought it sublimate any good use out of such a persecution more undermining, and an invention. Yet this only is what secretly decaying the church, than I request to gain from this reason, the open cruelty of Decius or Dioclethat it may be held a dangerous and sian. And perhaps it was the same suspicious fruit, as certainly it de politic drift that the devil whipped serves, for the tree that bore it, un- St. Jerom in a lenten dream, for til I can dissect one by one the pro- reading Cicero; or else it was a perties it has. But I have first to phantasm, bred by the fever which finish, as was propounded, what is had then seized him. For had an to be thought in general of reading angel been his discipliner, unless it books, whatever sort they be, and were for dwelling too much on Ciwhether be more the benefit or the ceronianisms, and had chastised the harm that thence proceeds.

reading, not the vanity, it had been Not to insist upon the examples plainly partial; first to correct bim of Moses, Daniel, and Paul, who for grave Cicero, and not for scurril were skilful in all the learning of the Plautus, whom he confesses to have Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Greeks, been reading not long before; next which could not probably be with to correct him only, and let so many out reading their books of all sorts, more ancient fathers wax old in those in Paul especially, who thought it pleasant and florid studies without no defilement to insert into boly the lash of such a tutoring appariscripture the sentences of three Greek tion ; insomuch that Basil teaches poets, and one of them a tragedian ; how some good use may be made of the question was notwithstanding Margites a sportful poem, not now sometimes controverted among the extant, writ by 'Homer; and why primitive doctors, but with great not then of Morgante an Italian roodds on that side which affirmed it mance much to the same purpose ? both lawful and profitable, as was But if it be agreed we shall be tried then evidently perceived, when Ju- by visions, there is a vision recorded lian the Apostate, and subtlest enemy by Eusebius, far ancienter than this to our faith, made a decree forbid- tale of Jerom, to the nun Eustochium, ding christians the study of heathen and besides, has nothing of a fever learning; for said he, they wound in it. Dionysius Alexandrius was us with our own weapons, and with about the year 240, a person of our own arts and sciences they over- great name in the church, for piety come us. And indeed the christians and learning, who had wont to avail were put so to their shifts by this himself much against heretics, by crafty means, and so much in danger being conversant in their books; unto decline into all ignorance, that til a certain presbyter laid it scrupu, the two Apollinarii were fain, as a lously to his conscience, how he

durst venture himself among those are of main service and assistance, defiling volumes. The worthy man, toward the speedy attainment of loth to give offence, fell into a new what is truest. I conceive therefore, debate with himself, what was to be that when God did enlarge the unithought; when suddenly a vision versal diet of man's body (saving sent from God, it is his own epistle ever the rules of temperance,) he then that so avers it,) confirmed himn in also, as before, left arbitrary the these words : “ Read any books dieting and repasting of our minds; whatever come to thy hands, for as wherein every mature man might thou art sufficient both to judge have to exercise his own leading ca. aright, and to examine each matter." pacity. How great a virtue is rempeTo this revelation he, assented the rance, how much of moment through sovner, as he confesses, because it the whole life of mau! Yet God was answerable to that of the Apostle commits the managing so great a to the Thessalonians; “ Prove all trust without particular law or prethings, hold fast that which is good.” scription, wholly to the demeanour And he might have added another of every grown man. And therefore remarkable saying of the same au- when he himself tabled the Jews thor : “ To the pure, all things are from Ileaven, that omer, which was pure;" not only mcats and drinks, every man's daily portion of manna, but all kind of knowledge, whether is computed to have been more than of good or evil; the knowledge can- might have well sufficed the heartiest not defile, nor consequently the feeder thrice as many meals. For books, if the will and conscience be these actions wbich enter into a not defiled. For books are as mfats man, rather than issue out of him, and viands are; some of good, some and therefore defile not, God uses of evil substance; and yet God in not to captivate under a perpetual that unapocryphal vision said with childhood of prescription, but trusts out exception, “ Rise Peter kill and him with the gift of reason to be lis eat;" leaving the choice to cach man's own chooser; there were but little discretion. Wholesome meats to a work left for preaching, if law and vitiated stomach differ little or no compulsion should grow so fast upon thing from un wholesome; and best those things which heretofore were books to a naughty niind are not uue governed only by exhortation. Soapplicable to occasions of evil. Bad Tomon informs us, that“ much read. meats will scarce breed good nou- ing is a weariness to the flesh;” but rishment in the healthiest concoc- neither he, nor other inspired author tion; but herein the difference is of tells us that such or such reading is bad books, that they lo à discreet unlawful; yet certainly had God and judicious reader serve in many thought good to limit us hercin, it Tespects to discover, to confute, io had been much more expedient to forewarn, and to illustrate. Whereof have told us what was unlawful, what better witness can ye espect I than what was wearisome. As for should produce, than one of your the burning of those Ephesian books own now sitting in parliament, the by St. Paul's converts; it is replied. chief of learned men reputed in this the books were magic, the Syriac so land, Mr. Selden ; whose volume of renders them. It was a private act. natural and national laws proves, a voluntary act, and leaves us to a not only by great authorities brought voluntary imitation ; the men in re. together, but by exquisite reasons morse burnt those books which were and theorems almost mathematically their own; the magistrate by this demonstrative, that all opinions, yea example is not appointed; these errors, known, read, and collated, men practised the books, another


« ZurückWeiter »