Books Condemned to be Burnt
by James Anson Farrer
Previous Part     1  2  3
Home - Random Browse

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 Understanding.

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 literature."

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 succeeding.

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 Bibliotheque Choisie.

Nevertheless, Queen Anne had given Tindal a present of L500 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 Romans.

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 fire.

[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 further?



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 L1000 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 Monarchy."

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 L1,000 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 justification.

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 L50, 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 imitation.

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 elasticity.

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 history.

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 Papae, and his De Conciliis et Ecclesia 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 condemnation.

"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 following:—

"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; Vindiciae 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 Tekel.

"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; Leviathan.

"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. Relat.

"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 Apostate.

"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 God.—Quakers.

"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 necessary.

"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; Napthali.

"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; Owen.

"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 schools.

"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.

Aubigne (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 (Abbe) 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 devoile, 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.

Desperiers, 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.

Genebrard (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 Peyrere 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.

Orleans (Louis d'), 18.

Osma (Peter d'), 7.

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

Paraeus (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 (Abbe), 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 (Abbe), 17.

Theophile, 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:

Moeurs oeuvre Poetarum

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 original]

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 quote]

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

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

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

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

Page 203: Genebrard[original has Genebrazd] (Archbishop), 18.

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


Previous Part     1  2  3
Home - Random Browse