Front Page Titles (by Subject) V. The Positive Argument against the Order - Areopagitica (Jebb ed.)
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V. The Positive Argument against the Order - John Milton, Areopagitica (Jebb ed.) 
Areopagitica, with a Commentary by Sir Richard C. Jebb and with Supplementary Material (Cambridge at the University Press, 1918).
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V. The Positive Argument against the Order
Pp. 33-50. I lastly proceed from the no good it can do...cold, and neutral, and inwardly divided minds.
a. Learning is discouraged.—When Prelacy was threatened at first, its friends urged that, with it, learning would fall. But this Order is the real downfall of learning. No really learned man, with any spirit, could brook being made a schoolboy again and put under the ferule of a tutor. When a man writes for the world, he puts forth his strength and strives to master his subject: is he, in spite of years, industry, proved knowledge and ability, to be baffled, unless he approves himself to the hasty glance of a licenser without leisure and perhaps without knowledge? Or if, after his book has been licensed, a new thought strikes him—as happens to all writers—shall he be debarred from improving his own work, unless he make a new trip to the licenser? No one would read these licensed books, which would necessarily be made up of hackneyed commonplaces. Then, if the work of a deceased author is to be reprinted, must this too be revised? Would John Knox’s works, for instance, have to pass the licenser?
b. Next, the whole nation is insulted.—Are twenty men enough to estimate all the genius and the good sense of England? Is there to be a monopoly of knowledge; are the products of all English brains to be stamped like broadcloth and woolpacks? The affront is not to the educated alone: the common people are just as much wronged by the notion that they are too giddy to be trusted with a flighty tract.
c. The Ministry is discredited.—Is it the result of all their labours that the people for whom they work are so unprincipled that the whiff of every new pamphlet can stagger them out of their catechism? Are the Ministers afraid to face a single adverse tract, unless they are entrenched in the stronghold, the St Angelo, of an imprimatur?
(This picture of the discouragement which learned men will suffer is not fanciful. In Italy learning is oppressed in the same way: in Italy I saw Galileo grown old, a prisoner to the Inquisition; and I heard Italians lamenting the servile state of letters, and congratulating me for living in a land of philosophic freedom—just when England was groaning most under the prelatical yoke: but these congratulations seemed omens. And when the deliverance did begin, men of letters here called to me, as the Sicilians invoked the upright quaestor against Verres, to stand up for them against this tyranny. And now that the yoke is being put on again, it is the common talk that the Presbyters are going to become new Prelates. The evils of Prelacy have been taken off the land at large only to be heaped upon its literature; for now the Licenser is Archbishop over a great Province of books. So it seems now that the press was to be free only till the Bishops had been overthrown; that done, it is to be in bondage again. Nor can the Presbyters say that this Order keeps down sects; on the contrary, by stirring up opposition, it becomes a nursing mother of sects.)
d. The Order is hostile to truth:—(i) First, as tending to efface knowledge already gained. The waters of truth have been likened to a fountain; but they will stagnate now into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition. The man of business, chiefly anxious to keep up appearances, and the man of pleasure, anxious to be saved trouble, will give up the attempt to think in religion and will become the merest formulists. The clergy will sink into indolence, secured by the Licenser from any assault upon received opinions. But men with a good conscience and a real love of truth ought to wish for open discussion. (ii) Secondly—the Order is hostile to truth as preventing any addition to knowledge. Truth was once incarnate on earth; but it has been hewn in pieces by Falsehood, and the pieces have been cast to the four winds; and as Isis sought for the limbs of Osiris, slain and mangled by Typhon, so the friends of truth are even now looking for the scattered members. Do not be hinderers of the search. We boast of our light: but the sun keeps the stars from being seen: and there is danger lest we have looked so long on the splendour of Zuinglius and Calvin that we are blinded to other lights of truth. The golden rule in Theology, as in other sciences, is to look for what we know not by the light of what we know.