Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/44

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Books Condemned to be Burnt.

handled with freedom, and men who were most divided in their lives meet at last in a common bond of harmony. Cowell, the friend of prerogative, finds himself here side by side with Milton, the republican; and Sacheverell, the high churchman, in close company with Tindal and Defoe.

For nearly 300 years the rude censorship of fire was applied to literature in England, beginning naturally in that fierce religious war we call the Reformation, which practically constitutes the history of England for some two centuries. The first grand occasion of book-burning was in response to the Pope's sentence against Martin Luther, when Wolsey went in state to St. Paul's, and many of Luther's publications were burned in the churchyard during a sermon against them by Fisher, Bishop of Rochester (1521).

But the first printed work by an Englishman that was so treated was actually the Gospel. The story is too familiar to repeat, of the two occasions on whidi Tyndale's New Testament in English was burnt before Old St. Paul's; but in pausing to reflect that the book which met with this fiery fate, and whose author ultimately met with the same, is now sold in England by the million (for our received