Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/84

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Books Condemned to be Burnt.

The above are the principal books whose names have come down to us as burnt in the reign of James, and the initiation of such burning seems always to have come from the King himself. As yet, the Star Chamber and Court of High Commission do not appear to have assumed the direction of this lesser but not unimportant department of government. Nor is there yet any mention of the hangman: the mere burning by any menial official being, thought stigma enough. It is also remarkable that the books which chiefly roused James's anger to the burning point were the works of foreigners—of Paraeus, Suarez, and Vorst. After James our country was too much occupied in burning its own books and pamphlets to burden itself with the additional labour of burning its neighbours'; the instances that occur are comparatively, few and far between. But it is clear that, whatever were James's real views as to the limits of his political prerogative, in the field of literature he meant to play and did play the despot. Pity that one who could so deftly wield his pen should have rested his final argument on the bonfire!