Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/20

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Books Condemned to be Burnt.

particular mode of warring with the expression of free thought boasts its precedents in pre-Christian antiquity.

Nevertheless it is the custom as it was manifested in Christian times that has chief interest for us, because it is only with condemned books of this period that we have any chance of practical acquaintance. Some of these survived the flames, whilst none of antiquity's burning have come down to us. But on what principle it was that the burning authorities (in France generally the Parlement of Paris, or of the provinces), burnt some books, whilst others were only censured, condemned, or suppressed, I am unable to say, and I doubt whether any principle was involved. Peignot has noticed the chief books stigmatised by authority in all these various ways; but though undoubtedly this wider view is more philosophical, the view is quite comprehensive enough which confines itself to the consideration of books that were condemned to be burnt.

Books so treated may be classified according as they offended against (i) the religion, (ii) the morals, or (iii) the politics of the day, those against the first being by far the most numerous, and so admitting here of notice only of their most conspicuous specimens.