Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/14

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Preface.

removal of their time-honoured props, or how, when all fear of punishment had been removed from the press, Church and State were still where he had left them. Reflecting on these things, he would recognise the fact that he himself had been living in an age of barbarism from which we his posterity were in process of gradual emergence. What vistas of still further improvement would not then be conjured up before his mind!

We can hardly wonder at our ancestors burning books when we recollect their readiness to bum one another. It was not till the year 1790 that women ceased to be liable to be burnt alive for high or for petit treason, and Blackstone found nothing to say against it. He saw nothing unfair in burning a woman for coinings but in only hanging a man. "The punishment of petit treason," he says "in a man is to be drawn and hanged and