Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/105

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Charles the First's Book-Fires

St. Francis de Sales' Praxis Spiritualis; or, The Introduction to a Devout Life, which, after having been licensed by his chaplain, had been tampered with, in the Roman Catholic interest, in its passage through the press. Of this curious book some twelve hundred copies were burnt, but a few hundred copies had been dispersed before the seizure.

The Archbishop's duties, as general superintendent of literature and the press, constituted, indeed, no sinecure. For ever since the year 1585, the Star Chamber regulations, passed at Archbishop Whitgift's instigation, had been in force; and, with unimportant exceptions, no book could be printed without being first seen, perused, and allowed by the Archbishop of Canterbury or Bishop of London. Rome herself had no more potent device for the maintenance of intellectual tyranny. The task of perusal was generally deputed to the Archbishop's chaplain, who, as in the case of Prynne's Histriomastix, ran the risk of a fine and the pillory if he suffered a book to be licensed without a careful study of its contents.

But the powers of the Archbishop over the press were not yet enough for Laud, and in July 1637 the Star Chamber