Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/145

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
129
Book-Fires of the Restoration.

it never got beyond the House of Lords, a dispute between the two Houses leading to a prorogation of Parliament and so to the salvation of liberty. But the whole episode impresses on the mind the force of the current then, as always, flowing in favour of arbitrary government throughout our history, as well as a sense of the very narrow margin by which liberty of any sort has escaped or been evolved, and, in general, of wonder that it should ever have survived at all the combinations of adverse circumstances against it.

It has been shown in the account of books burnt in the time of the Rebellion, how freely in the struggle between Orthodoxy and Free Thought—between the dogmas, that is, of the strongest sect and the speculations of individuals—fire was resorted to for the purpose of burning out unpopular opinions. These, indeed, were often of so fantastic a nature, that no fire was really needed to insure their extinction; whilst of others it may be said that, as their existence was originally independent of actual expression, so the punishment inflicted on their utterance could prove no barrier to their propagation.

But besides the war that was waged in the domain of theology proper, between opinions claiming to be sound and opinions