An Essay on the
Note: this Renascence
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Bear, July 2003, from the Lutrell Society reprint of the edition of
1704. Any errors that have crept into the transcription are the fault
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L O N D
Printed in the Year, 1704.
think that laying a Tax upon Printed News, may be of Service; but in my
Opinion, it will only give Encouragement to the News Writers to vent
own Opinions thro'-out England: besides the small Sum that can be
by it is not worth mentioning.
the Licentiousness of the Press to be a publick Grievance, but it is
easier to say it is so, than to prove it, or prescribe a proper Remedy;
nor is it the easiest Grievance to Cure.
To put a
stop to publick Printing, would be a check to Learning, a Prohibition
Knowledge, and make Instruction Contraband: And as Printing has been
to be the most; useful Invention ever found out, in order to polish the
Learned World, make men Polite, and encrease the Knowledge of Letters,
and thereby all useful Arts and Sciences; so the high Perfection of
Knowledge must be at a stand, Improvements stop, and the Knowledge of
decay in the Kingdom, if a general Interruption should be put to the
Licentious Extravagance of Authors therefore, and bring the Press under
Regulations, is the Case before us, and this is for that Reason call'd,
Essay on the Regulation of the Press.
to examine the Liberty taken by the Men of Wit in the World, the loose
they give themselves in Print, at Religion, at Government, at Scandal;
the prodigious looseness of the Pen, in broaching new Opinions in
as well as in Politicks, are real Scandals to the Nation, and well
the Christian World, but ours, would have suffered such Books as Asgill
upon Death; Coward against the Immortality of the Soul; ———— on
Poligamy; ————— against the Trinity; B—————t's Theory;
abundance more tending to Atheism, Heresie, and Irreligion, without a
Censure, nor should the Authors have gone without Censure and
in any place in Europe, but here.
I cannot but agree that a Regulation, or due Restraint of the Press, is
a good work. But the next and most material Enquiry is, how shall it be
Office, says a Messenger of the Press, that I may be employ'd to make
in the Town, as has been done in the days of yore.
the hopes of a forward Party upon that head, is very plain to make out,
but I shall avoid charging any Body, and only proceed to examine what
the proper Consequences of a License to the Press.
It makes the Press a slave to a Party; let it be which Party it will, I
meddle not with that; but whatever Party of Men obtain the Reins of
and have power to name the Person who shall License the Press, that
of Men have the whole power of keeping the World in Ignorance, in all
relating to Religion or Policy, since the Writers of that Party shall
full liberty to impose their Notions upon the World, and if any Man
to reply, the Licenser shall refuse the Copy.
accounted Arbitrary, and not the least Grievance in former Reigns; for
indeed an absolute submitting the Press to the will of a Licenser, is
the whole Trade of Books, and the whole Body of Learning, under the
Power of Mercenary Men.
the most capable Scholar, the Elaborate Works of the most exquisite
the most Practical Discourse on the Divinest Subject, Dissertations and
Transactions in all Sciences shall fall to the Ground, and the Student
lose his Years of Labour, and the World the Advantage of his Learning
Parts, unless a sum of Mony can be rais'd to bribe a Mercenary
and a Hackney Messenger.
to reckon up the many Volumes on all needful Subjects, which were
rejected in the days of the Press's Restriction, when the most Orthodox
Divinity was suppress'd, because the Man was not approv'd that wrote
and a Book was Damn'd for the Author, not the Author for the Book.
This was a
of Arbitrary Power in the Government; for in Rightful Governments they
do not Tyrannize themselves, but if the Officers are allow'd to impose
upon them, Under-Spur-leathers are always the Tyrants; a Government
by Laws, and Govern'd according to such Regulations, never willingly
it into the power of any Inferiour Officer to Tyrannize over his fellow
are sorts of people who are willing to promote a general License, and
studious to defend it; but 'tis plain they are such as promote
in Argument, which they can but very sorrily defend; and flattering
from what Grounds I believe they themselves hardly know; that they may
obtain a Licenser to their Advantage, they suppose from thence a
to obtrude their preposterous Notions upon the World, and by favour of
a Law and an Arbitrary Licenser, partial to their own Factions,
the possibility of a reply.
are in the right to desire such a thing, as a Licenser; for false and
Reasoning, requires the support of Power to defend it from the
force of Truth and Demonstration.
they should be able to see that the present Government is not so suited
to those Principles, as that they should expect: so Arbitrary and
an Office should be erected, after so many Years being laid side.
do not believe the Parliament will make a Law to abridge them of that
they should protest, for tho' it were more true than it is, that the
of the Press ought to be restrain'd, yet I cannot see how the
and passing all the Works of the Learned part of the World by one or a
few Men, and giving them an absolute Negative on the Press, can
be reconcil'd to the liberty of the English Nation.
made against Fa£ls not in themselves unlawful, but as
and Reason of State requires, and Circumstances may make a thing unfit
to be allow'd in a Country, which would otherwise be no Crime; but in
Cases such Laws are enforc'd by a Penalty, and he that will suffer the
Penalty, is always at Liberty to commit the Crime.
But in this
a Man is abridg'd of his Liberty, and must not do this or that, whether
it Transgresses the Law or no. For Example, a person having Writ a
brings it to one or other Licenser, the Law is not express that such a
Book shall not appear in the World, there is no Crime committed, but
Book shall be Damn'd in its Womb, not because any thing in it is
to the Government, Irreligious, Blasphemous, or any other way Criminal,
not because 'tis a Book unfit to appear, but because Mr. Licenser
does not please to like it.
I know no
in the World, whose Government is not perfectly Despotick, that ever
preventive Laws, 'tis enough to make Laws to punish Crimes when they
committed, and not to put it in the power of any single Man, on
of preventing Offences to commit worse.
against Theft and Murther, do not say they shall not commit the Crime,
but if they do, they shall be so and so punish'd. 'Tis for the Commands
of God to say, Thou shat not do this or that, Kill, Steal, commit
and the like; but Man can only say, if any Man shall wilfully do this,
or that, commit this or that Crime, he shall suffer such or such Pains,
and Penalties; and some are of opinion, all men have a Native right, as
to Human Liberty, to commit any Fact, if they submit to the penalty
which the Law inflicts; for as to its being a sin against God, the Laws
have nothing to say to that, and as to a sin against Civil Government,
there can be no such thing as a Crime till the Fact is committed, and
to anticipate the Man by Laws, before the Crime, is to abridge him of
Liberty without a Crime, and so make a Punishment without a
which is illegal in its own Nature, and Arbitrary in the most intense
be improper here to Examine what particular Inconveniences attend such
a Law in our present Case, and upon what just Grounds I except against.
1. I object
it as the first step to restore Arbitrary Power in this Nation, and the
worst way of restoring it, viz. by a Law. For to go back again
that which we once complain'd of as Arbitrary, is a tacit acknowledging
the former Complaint to be groundless, and giving us cause to think
there's more steps of that Nature to be introduc'd.
Precedents in cases so dangerous, where the Liberty of a Nation is
and I cannot doubt but our wise Legislators will consider what the
of yielding in the least point of the Subjects Priviledges are, and we
have always found them very tender of the least; punctilio's of that
Fundamental, the Peoples Liberty. 'Tis needless to quote Cases, the
practice of the House of Commons, ever since the liberty of the
was to secure the English freedom, and carefully to watch
all Encroachments of any sort, either from without or from any Parties
2. 'Tis a
of Frauds, Briberies, and all the ill practices possible; the absolute
conduct of so considerable an Article, being committed to the Breast of
a few Men, every part of their proceedings are Arbitrary and
Nay, even when he passes a Book that ought to be pass'd, yet 'tis
in him, because he passes it not because it ought so to be pass'd, but
because he has receiv'd some Perquisite, Gratuity, or other Argument to
prevail upon him to do it.
without a Fee, and fancy an Author brings a Copy to him, suppose of
and where is the Book against which he can find no excuse, tho' Penn'd
with never so much caution? here it reflects upon the Church, there
the Government; this seems to look asquint on such an Article of the
of England, that at too much a Ceremony in the Liturgy and
and he cannot allow it to be Publish'd; but send him the next morning
or three Guineas, and you have the Imprimatur at first
Suppose it be a Book of Politicks, then this Sentence is a reflection
this great Man, that on another, this may signifie the Parliament, that
the King or Queen, but still the Guineas sets it all to right again,
Gold makes the Book Orthodox and Loyal, and private Constructive
vanish in the Mist raised before his Eyes by the Mony.
this or that Licenser, a Party-Man, that is, One put in, and upheld by
a Party; suppose him of any Party, which you please, and a Man of the
Kidney, brings him a Book, he views the Character of the Man, O,
says he, I know the Author, he is a damn'd Whig, or a rank
Jacobite, I'll License none of his Writings; here is Bribery on
one Hand, partiality to Parties on the other; but get a Man of his own
Kidney to own the very same Book, and as he refus'd it without opening
before, he is as easie to pass it now, not for the Good or Ill in the
but on both Hands for the Character of the Author.
Engine of Fraud comes in to make up this Complication of Frauds, and
Practices, and that is the Messenger of the Press, and this serves for
the Receiver, while the t'other is the Th—f, and he takes the Fees, and
the Licenser does the Work, and so casting up together they bring all
an Account of Profit and Loss. This is the Broker of the Press, the
of the License-Office; he Talks with you, and Treats with any Body to
a Book Licensed, and Rates his Fees as he finds the Person more or less
Obnoxious to his Master, or his Party.
This is a
Mouse-Trap, and he that will come into the Press must expect to be
in it, and then in a little Time all the force of the Law, so far as
against the Exorbitance of the Pen is Evaded and Eluded, all revolves
the Bribery and Villainy of Officers and Licensers, the Law looks like
a Phantome of the Brain, made for one Man in an Age to raise a Fortune
by, and he must turn Round to perform it.
have often been consider'd in Parliament, and have been the true
why our Wise Representers, tho' willing enough to Restrain any undue
yet have always avoided this Pernitious Remedy, as a thing of much
Consequence to the Constitution and Privileges of Englishmen,
the Licentiousness of the Press can be to the Government.
To Cure the
Use of Liberty, with a Deprivation of Liberty, is like cutting off the
Leg to cure the Gout in the Toe, like expelling Poison with too Rank a
Poison, where both may struggle which Poison shall prevail, but which
prevails, the Patient suffers.
of some few People in Printing Seditious and Dangerous Books, must
all the Men of Learning in the Nation of their Liberty in Printing,
after exceeding toil and unwearied Pains they are willing to
to Posterity, then who will Study, who will breed up their Children to
Letters, when all the Fruits of their Labours are liable to the Blast
the Arbitrary Breath of Mercenary Men.
By such a
a Fellow of no Letters, of Knowledge too little to fit him for a
shall be Capable of Tyrannizing over the whole World of Learning, and
Book can see the Light without his leave, when after a Man has wrote
to have all the World acknowledge him, and such a Work, which in some
he would have sufficient Gratification for, here he shall not bestow it
on the World, without putting himself to the Charge of Bribing the
and so cannot give them his Labour, but he must give them his Money too.
thing the King of France out does all the Princes of Europe,
where such Encouragement is given to Learning, that all useful Books in
the World now speak French, and a Man may be an Universal
read Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and all the Antient Poets; Cicero,
Plato, Epictetus, Aristotle, and all the Antient Philosophers; St. Athanasius,
St. Augustine, and all the Primitive Fathers; Plutarch,
and all the Antient Historians, and yet neither understand a Word of Greek
or Latin, and pray let us Examine if ever the Press has been
'd to the Absolute Power of a Licenser or Reviser, on the contrary all
the Liberty and Encouragement imaginable has been given to the Press,
the Abbies, and publick Libraries in the Kingdom are oblig'd to take
and when any Author has publish'd an Extraordinary Piece, the King
has thought fit to reward him with a Magnificence, peculiar to the
and State of the French Court.
has been the Life of Learning, and ever since Cardinal Richlieu
Erected the Royal Academy, no Nation in the World ever flourish'd in
Nation has always carried a figure equal to their Neighbours, as to all
sorts of Learning, and in some very much superior, and tho' without all
those Encouragements, have not yet sunk their Character that way. But
cannot say that Learning is grown to such a height that it needs a
that it wants a Tyrant of the Press to govern it: Knowledge is much
'tis confess'd, but the World is not so over-run with Letters, that it
should be Tax'd as a Vice, and Laws made to Suppress the little Degrees
of it, that are attain'd to.
propose to themselves who are so forward to procure, or at least so
plead for this Padlock to the Press, I cannot imagine, unless it be
they have some grounds to hope they shall keep the Key.
the design of that Power be? If it be that they would have the
to Print what they please, and that the adverse Party should not have
liberty of the Press to Reply, is a sign the Cause they Embark in is
to be Defended, and will not bear an Answer, and if it be that that
would have no Writing at all, but such points as they are doubtful in,
'tis an Unquestionable Argument that their Cause won't bear Canvasing,
and that the less 'tis Examined into, the better for them.
an Arrogance peculiar to themselves, and can venture things into the
upon the Reputation of a bold Expression, presuming, no Man will
Examination after the positive Assertion of their Pen. If these
are so full of Assurance, Anglicè, Impudence, as to
things without Ground, when other Men as well Read as themselves, are
their Elbows to Confute them, to Examine their Authorities and reprove
them when they Act without Authority; what work would such Men as these
make in the World with their Cause, if this Padlock of the Press was
on by the Laws, and they were to keep the Key, that is, in short, if
had a full License to vent their Notions, and the Law should place a
of their own at the Door of the Press, that no Man but he that had the
Word should come there.
more Wise Nations quoted upon us for things no Nation ever
and Precedents brought in by Wholesale, without any other Authority
the Imprimatur of the Party.
New and Old
might then cry out of Rebellion in Scotland, from the Presbyterian,
and make the World believe the Cameronians were up in Arms
to restore Episcopacy. Boys may beat Men if their Hands were
if the Hands of a Party are ever Ty'd up by a Law of Licensing, 'tis
then who talks Sense, or Matter of Fact, nor who has the best of the
nor who can say most to the purpose, but who shall be Licensed to speak
what he has to say, and who not, who shall Talk, and who shall hold his
This I take
be the true state of the Case, and if it be so, I leave it to any body
to judge, whether a License of the Press can be consistent
with the Encouragement due to Learning, the Liberty of this Nation, the
Reason of the thing, or the Reputation of any Party who desire it.
then fit the Licentiousness of the Press should be Unrestrain'd? And
How shall it be done?
I reply. Licentiousness of all sorts ought to be Restrain'd, whether of
the Tongue, the Pen, the Press, or any thing else, and it were well if
all sorts of Licentiousness were as easy to Govern as this; but to
this Evil by an Evil ten times more pernicious, is doing us no service
the Injury done to the whole Nation, by severely Punishing small
and letting more substantial Grievances alone, is what there has been
to Complain of.
in all our Justice and Crimes have, or have not been Punish'd, as Parties
and Sides have Govern'd. But I am not going to write a Satyr on
Government, several has paid Dear enough for that; to give me Notice
is to be expected from such a Liberty; as 'tis in all the World so it
too much been here, where there are Powers and Parties
struggling, there must be a Byass of Justice as this or that Side
the Press should come into a Party-strife: This is like two Parties
to War, and one depriving the other of all their Powder and Shot.
stands always Neuter, or rather, Jack a both Sides, every body
it, and then they get the Victory who have most Courage to use it, and
Conduct to manage it.
in the Press, with submission to Powers, this I think is a just
from Reason, that since this Nation is unhappily Divided into Parties,
every Side ought to have an equal Advantage in the use of the Press,
this can never be in Case of Licensing; for whatsoever Party assumes
Power of placing this Paper Magistrate, will, in effect, have an
Power over the Press, to give their Friends a full liberty of Affirming,
and to refuse the other Side the liberty of Replying.
Now, as our
cannot be said to be of any Party, because they are Whole; so they
make a Law which can be equal to the Whole, while it gives the Power to
any one Party.
prov'd, that any one Party has more Right, as a Party, to
any thing than another, and therefore cannot in Justice have more
given them to do it: For no Man can justly Demand an Exclusive Power,
he had no precedent Right.
a Scandal both to the Merit of a Cause, and the Wit of the Managers,
any Party shou'd fly to the Law to suppress his Adversary's Pen. If two
Men fall Out, and one having struck the other, the Person who receiv'd
the Blow instead of Fighting him goes to Law with him for the Assault.
'Tis a natural Consequence for all Men to believe such a Man was afraid
to Fight; either he was a Coward in his Nature, or he thought himself
and his Enemy would be too hard for him.
So where a
flies to the Engine of the Law to prevent their Opponent's appearing in
Print, it looks like a Confession that they would have the Advantage,
the Liberty was not Restrain'd by the Law.
But then to
a Law which should be so Circumstanc'd, as that one Party shall Write
Print, and the other shall not, this has a further Scandal in it, it
only Confesses superiority in the Enemy Suppressor, but seems to have
base in the Party, like getting two Men to hold a Man while I Beat him.
then seems thus,
You own the
of the Press ought to be restrain'd, but you are of the Opinion a
is Arbitrary and Unequal. How then would you have the end
me to direct the Legislative Authority, nor do these Sheets pretend to
it, but to me the properest Methods seem to be such as follow.
1. To make
Act that no Man shall, by Writing or by Printing, Argue, Dispute,
upon, or pretend to Vindicate such and such Points, Persons, Bodies,
&c. of the State or the Church, or of any other Matter or Thing as
the Law shall mention, and they will be such as the Law-makers see
2. That if
shall presume to do so, they shall be punish'd in such or such a Manner.
all Men will know when they Trangress, which at present, they do not;
as the Case now stands, 'tis in the Breast of the Courts of Justice to
make any Book a Scandalous and Seditious Libel, and nothing is more
than the Letter of an Indictment in such Cases, and the Jury being
only Judges of Evidence, Judges of Fact, and not of the Nature of it,
Judges are thereby Unlimited.
In the Case
Mr. Delaun, who was Indicted at the Old Baily, for
a Book, call'd, A Plea for the Nonconformists, says the
Indictment, and the said Delaun did then, and there by
the aforesaid Scandalous and Seditious Book, against the Peace of our
Lord the King, his Crown and Dignity, which are the actual Words in
most Indictments of that nature.
would be Obviated, and Men might know when they Transgress, and when
Original Design are not made to draw Men into Crimes, but to prevent
Crimes; Laws are Buoys set upon dangerous Places under Water,
that such Sands or Rocks are there, and the Language of them is, Come
here at your Peril.
an Author is not known; and I think verily no Book can be wrote so
but that if the Author be brought on his Tryal, it shall be easy for a
cunning Lawyer, ay for a Lawyer of no great Cunning, to put an Innuendo
upon his Meaning, and make some Part of it Criminal. Thus it was in the
Case of Baxter's Comment upon the New Teflament; Algernon Sidney's
to Sir Robert Filmer; De Laun's Plea for the Nonconformists; Anderton's
two Books; and so it may be with this Book, or the best in the
are Dangers thus conceal'd in the Law, and no Man can tell when he
'twould be a wholsome Piece of Justice to all the Nation, to place a Buoy
on the Rock, and whoever splits on it afterwards would deserve no pity.
Such a Law
be a sufficient Restraint to the Exorbitance of the Press, for then the
Crime would be plain, and Men would be afraid of committing it. Whereas
the present uncertainty of the Crime seems to be the greatest Occasion
of the Crime, for Men are apt to be bold in a Thing which they cannot
expressly Condemn'd by the Letter of the Law.
As the Crime may be stated, so may the Punishment, and then no Man can
be at the Mercy of arbitrary Men; no Sidneys will be found to
Sentence revers'd, and Attainders taken off; no De Launs die in
Prison under Exorbitant Fines; no post Factum's, no Complaint
be made by the Person offending, because they know what they were to
the End of restraining the Press would be obtain'd by it; for when Men
know both the Crime and the Punishment, they would be much more wary of
the one for fear of the other.
the uncertainty of both at present, is the real, if not the only Ground
of the Licentiousness of the Press. When I am told the present Liberty
of the Press is a Grievance, I must say, the reason is plain, 'tis
there is a Liberty, and no Law to ascertain the Fact. But let the Law
the Crime, and tie it to the Penalty, that Authors may know what to
to; there needs no Licenser to pick Men's Pockets, permit Crimes when
is paid for them, and refuse useful and valuable Books if he is not
a Question unanswer'd, that in other Cases is not usual. There are many
ways to commit this Crime, and lie conceal'd; the Crime may be
and the Malefactor hard to be found, and therefore the Licensing the
was thought necessary to prevent the Fact, because when committed, the
Offender is not easily brought to Justice.
answered, and the Parliament has thought fit, in two Cases, to make a
that exactly reaches the Case, and they are, first, in the Case
of buying stolen Goods; and the other is, in putting off, or exchanging
counterfeit Money; both which, tho' Accessaries to the Crime, are now
equally Criminal with the Principal, if knowingly done.
If in the
of the Press, a Law be made to make the last Seller the Author, unless
the Name of Author, Printer, or Bookseller, be affix'd to the Book,
no Book can be published, but there will be some body found to answer
it. Whoever puts a false Name, to forfeit. . . . &c.
be thought hard upon the Seller of the Book, because as he knows the
no Bookseller will be so foolish as to sell any Book that has not the
of some Printer, Bookseller, or Author affix'd to the Title; and so
Law will answer two Ends together; be a means to prevent the Crime, and
fix the Offender if it be committed.
If the Name
the Author, or of the Printer, or of the Bookseller, for whom it is
be affix'd, every Man is safe that sells a Book; but if not, then no
will sell it, but he that hath some private Reason for propagating what
the Book treats of, and such a Man has some Title to pass for the
I place the
of a Law very much, as before, in the Power and Efficacy it has to
the Crime; and the Justice of that Law can never be plainer, than when
the Fact is ascertain'd, the Penalty settled, and the Criminal
No Man can then be Guilty, but he that is wilfully and knowingly so,
whoever is so, let him suffer, no Man will be concern'd for him.
that ever I could meet with for a Licenser, was built upon the
of discovering the true Author of a Book, and the Difficulty being
that no Laws could easily be made effectual, to fix the Writer of any
they found room for the Stratagem of a Licenser. I call it an Excuse
it, because 'tis plain, the Licenser was not found out as a Remedy for
the Evil: But the Design of a Licenser being first resolv'd on, the
Difficulty was made a Handle to introduce the new Engine into the
and place this Monarch of the Press, as a Tyrant to exercise his
Authority over the World of Letters, and so suppress one Mischief by
Press in the full Enjoyment of all its just Liberties, and answer all
Ends, while 'tis yet fenc'd about with due Restriction of Laws, every
may have a full Freedom of promoting the Extent of Learning, exercising
his Parts, defending his Arguments, and answering his Adversary, and
at the same time will know how far he may go with safety, and when he
: If any Man then gives offence, he knows it, and what he must expect;
if any Man does thus offend, the Law knows the Offender, and how to
him: All things would run in the open free Course of Laws. Criminals
Laws, Offences and Punishment are due Opposites, and ought always to
in view of one another. If the Punishment or the Law is conceal'd from
the Offender, he is trapann'd into the Crime to his Destruction, when
knows nothing of the Matter, and the Law is made a Gin or Snare to hook
him into Punishment, which is contrary to the Nature of Laws, and the
of all just Governments.
to settle what an Author may or may not do, to bring the Offences of
Pen to a Regulation, and then to annex the Punishment to the Crime,
bring all this Matter to a Square.
be known as soon as the Book, because this Law would oblige the Printer
or Bookseller to place the Author's Name in the Title, or himself.
Nor is it
small Advantage of this Law, to have the Punishment of Authors
for I know nothing in which our Laws have been executed with a greater
Irregularity, no Crime has been punish'd with such improper
such arbitrary Latitude, or such inconsistent Variety. In other Cases
have Crimes and Punishments link'd together; if a Man robs a House,
the Coin, or kills a Man, he knows what he has to trust to, but Authors
have never known their Punishment: We have had the very same Crime
with trifling Fines of Twenty Shillings, and exorbitant Fines of a
Marks, and yet the Twenty-Shilling-Man hath the greatest Guilt; writing
of a Book has been punish'd with Fines, Whippings, Pillories,
for Life, Halters and Axes: How 'tis possible the Guilt of the Pen
can extend to merit all these several Penalties, is a thing I never met
with a Lawyer yet that could resolve.
something else than Law in the Case; when I shall commit an Offence,
be fin'd 20 Mark, or perhaps less; another, for the same Crime, shall
be prosecuted at all; another hang'd or beheaded.
cannot shew me a Crime punished by such unequal Variety, where the
is the same in Kind, and can only differ in Circumstances; nor is it
those Circumstances can have so much Variety, such unusual Distance in
their Nature, as there has been in the Punishments; but all this comes
from the Law having left the Punishment unsettled, and plac'd it in the
unlimited Judgments of Men.
also put a Stop to a certain sort of Thieving which is now in full
in England, and which no Law extends to punish, viz.
Printers and Booksellers printing Copies none of their own.
a most: injurious piece of Violence, and a Grievance to all Mankind;
it not only robs their Neighbour of their jusT: Right, but it robs Men
of the due Reward of Industry, the Prize of Learning, and the Benefit
their Studies; in the next Place, it robs the Reader, by printing
of other Men uncorrect and imperfect, making surreptitious and spurious
Collections, and innumerable Errors, by which the Design of the Author
is often inverted, conceal'd, or destroy'd, and the Information the
would reap by a curious and well studied Discourse, is dwindled into
to instance in the Mischiefs which have been done of this kind. An
prints a Book, whether on a Civil or Religious Subject, Philosophy,
or any Subject, if it be a large Volume, it shall be immediately abridgd
by some mercenary Bookseller, employing a Hackney-writer, who shall
such a contrary Turn to the Sense, such a false Idea of the Design, and
so huddle Matters of the greatest Consequence together in abrupt
that no greater Wrong can be done to the Subject; thus the sale of a
of twenty Shillings is spoil'd, by perswading People that the Substance
of the Book is contain'd in the Summary of 4s. price,
the Under-taker is ruin'd, the Reader impos'd upon, and the Author's
20 Years Labour lost and undervalued : I refer my Reader, for the Truth
of this, to the several Abridgments of the Turkish History, Josephus,
Baxter's Life, and the like.
I think in
no Man has a Right to make any Abridgment of a Book, but the Proprietor
of the Book; and I am sure no Man can be so well qualified for the
it, as the Author, if alive, because no Man can be capable of knowing
true Sense of the Design, or of giving it a due Turn like him that
This is the
Sort of the Press-Piracy, the next is pirating Books in smaller Print,
and meaner Paper, in order to sell them lower than the first
Thus as soon as a Book is publish'd by the Author, a raskally Fellow
it, and immediately falls to work upon it, and if it was a Book of a
he will contract it so as to sell it for two Shillings, a Book of three
Shillings for one Shilling, a Pamphlet of a Shilling, for 2d.
a Six-penny Book in a penny Sheet, and the like. This is down-right
on the High-way, or cutting a Purse, (were they not afraid of their
is a Ruin to Trade, a Discouragement to Learning, and the Shame of a
The Law we
upon, effectually suppresses this most villainous Practice, for every
being oblig'd to set his Name to the Book he writes, has, by this Law,
an undoubted exclusive Right to the Property of it. The Clause in the
is a Patent to the Author, and settles the Propriety of the Work wholly
in himself, or in such to whom he shall assign it; and 'tis reasonable
it should be so: For if an Author has not the right of a Book, after he
has made it, and the benefit be not his own, and the Law will not
him in that Benefit, 'twould be very hard the Law should pretend to
him for it.
severe, to make a Man answerable for the Miscarriages of a thing which
he shall not reap the benefit of if well perform'd; there is no Law so
much wanting in the Nation, relating to Trade and Civil Property, as
nor is there a greater Abuse in any Civil Employment, than the printing
of other Mens Copies, every jot as unjust as lying with their Wives,
breaking-up their Houses.
a Licenser will never remedy; nay these People who aft them in secret,
and without Principles, are out of the reach of a Licenser, for they
not the Law, are unaccountable themselves, and have their
and Mannagers under them.
But if an
has a Right of Action given him by Law, not against him only who shall
print his Copy, but against the Publisher of it also; and this Law
made full and express, the Evil will die, for no body will dare to sell
the Book, when the vilainous Pirate has finish'd the Impression.
It has been
against such a Regulation of the Press, That it will fill the Town with
scandalous Lampoons and Pasquinadoes, which will be handed
in manuscript, and do as much harm as Printing. To this I must answer,
A Restraint upon the Press will do so, and always did; and I appeal to
any Man's Judgment, to shew me a time when ever the Town swarm'd with
of that Nature, as it did in King Charles the Second's Time,
King James's, and some part of King William's, when the
was under the Government of a Licenser, and therefore this Law can no
be more instrumental to it than that was, nor I think will not be so
see no further
Objection against my Opinion, and shall be very willing to consider it
when I meet with it; in the mean time, if any one can propose a better
Method, more agreeable to the Justice of the Nation, and more effectual
to all the Ends that are needful to be consider'd, I hope he will not
discourag'd by this Essay, from making the Proposal.
F I N I