Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/146

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Books Condemned to be Burnt.

claiming to be true, a contest no less fierce centred for long round the very organisation of the Church; and between the Establishment and Dissent that hostile condition of thrust and parry, which has since become chronic, and is so detrimental to the cause professed by both alike, is no less visible in the field of literature than in that of our general history. Associated with the literary side of this great and bitter conflict—a side only too much ignored in the discreet popular histories of the English Church—are the names of Delaune, Defoe, Tindal, on the aggressive side, of Sacheverell and Drake on the defensive; each party, during the heat of battle, giving vent to sentiments so offensive to the other as to make it seem that- fire alone could atone for the injury or remove the sting.

The first book to mention in connection with this struggle is Delaune's Plea for the Nonconformists a book round which hangs a melancholy tale, and which is entitled to a niche in the library of Fame for other reasons than the mere fact of its having been burnt before the Royal Exchange in 1683. The story shows the sacerdotalism of the Church of England at its very worst, and helps to explain the evil heritage of hatred which, in the hearts