Thursday, September 29, 2011

#2: john milton's aereopagitica

reason:  milton was a puritan who was embroiled in cromwell's overthrow of the english monarchy.  cromwell, one to strictly control the information relayed to his people, took to moderating the presses and suppressing anything he wanted.  enter milton's aereopagitica. 

milton was staunchly opposed to this practice and went about expressing his beliefs in the only way he knew how:  writing.

he writes:

"I deny not, but that it is of greatest concernment in the Church and Commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how Bookes demeane themselves as well as men; and thereafter to confine, imprison, and do sharpest justice on them as malefactors: For Books are not absolutely dead things, but doe contain a potencie of life in them to be as active as that soule was whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a violl the purest efficacie and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous Dragons teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men. And yet on the other hand, unlesse warinesse be us'd, as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, Gods Image; but hee who destroyes a good Booke, kills reason it selfe, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the Earth; but a good Booke is the pretious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalm'd and treasur'd up on purpose to a life beyond life."

his tract was immediately suppressed.  but the passion and reason behind it remained.

cromwell's protectorate was, soon after, overthrown and the monarch was restored.  all the puritans involved in the initial action against the crown were tried and put to death for treason save one:  john milton.

in short, go milton!

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