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was the passing, in June 1643, of a new, strict, and minutely framed Ordinance for Printing.

Forced by the public necessities of the case, including the necessity of preventing the diffusion of Royalist tracts and sheets of intelligence, or by the trade complaints of the Stationers' Company, or by both combined, the Commons at last addressed themselves to the subject resolutely. On June 10 an “Ordinance to prevent and suppress the Licence of Printing” was read in their House, agreed to, and sent to the Lords; on June 14 the Lords concurred, and signified their concurrence to the Commons; and, certain farther arrangements of detail having been made by the Commons on the 16th, the 20th, and the 21st of the same month, the Ordinance forthwith came into operation. The Ordinance (with the omission of clanses relative to printing of Parliamentary papers and to mere piracy of copyrights) is as follows:

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“ Whereas divers good orders have been lately made by both “ Houses of Parliament for suppressing the late great abuses and “ frequent disorders in printing many forged, scandalous, seditious, “ libellous and unlicensed Papers, Pamphlets and Books, to the great defamation of Religion and Government—which orders “ (notwithstanding the diligence of the Company of Stationers to

put them in full execution) have taken little or no effect, by

reason the Bill in preparation for the redress of the said disorders “ hath hitherto been retarded through the present distractions, and

very many, as well Stationers and Printers, as others of sundry “ other professions not free of the Stationers' Company, have taken

upon them to set up sundry private printing presses in corners, " and to print, vend, publish and disperse Books, Pamphlets and

Papers, in such multitudes that no industry could be sufficient “ to discover or bring to punishment all the several abounding

delinquents It is therefore ordered that no . . Book, • Pamphlet, Paper, nor part of any such Book, Pamphlet or Paper, " shall from henceforth be printed, bound, stitched, or put to sale " by any person or persons whatsoever, unless the same be first

approved of and licensed under the hands of such person or persons as both or either of the said Houses shall appoint for the licensing of the same, and entered in the Register Book of the

Company of Stationers according to ancient custom, and the “ Printer thereof to put his name thereto. . . . And the Master " and Wardens of the said Company, the Gentleman-Usher of the “ House of Peers, the Sergeant of the Commons House, and their “ Deputies ... are hereby authorized and required from time to time

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to make diligent search in all places where they shall think meet “ for all unlicensed printing presses

.. and to seize and carry away such printing-presses . . and likewise to make diligent « search

all suspected printing-houses, warehouses, shops and “other places . . . and likewise to apprehend all Authors, Printers,

and other persons whatsoever employed in compiling, printing, “ stitching, binding, publishing and dispersing of the said scandalous, unlicensed and unwarrantable Papers

, Books and Pamphlets .. and to bring them afore either of the Houses, or the Com“ mittee of Examinations, that so they may receive such further “punishments as their offences shall demerit. . . . And all Justices " of the Peace, Captains, Constables and other officers, are hereby “ ordered and required to be aiding and assisting to the foresaid

persons in the due execution of all and singular the premises, and “ in the apprehension of offenders against the same, and, in case of

opposition, to break open doors and locks.-And it is further “ ordered that this Order be forth with printed and published, to “ the end that notice may be taken thereof, and all contemners of « it left inexcusable.”

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Such was the famous Ordinance for Printing of the Long Parliament, dated June 14, 1643. Within a week afterwards it was brought into working trim by the nomination of the persons to whom the business of licensing was to be entrusted. For Books of Divinity a staff of twelve Divines was appointed, the imprimatur of any one of whom should be sufficient-to wit: Mr. THOMAS GATAKER, Mr. CALIBUTE DOWNING, Dr. THOMAS TEMPLE, Mr. JOSEPH CARYL, Mr. EDMUND CALAMY, Mr. CHARLES HERLE, Mr. UBADIAH SEDGWICK, Mr. CARTER of Yorkshire, Mr. JOHN DOWNHAM, Mr. JAMES CRANFORD, Mr. BACHELER, and Mr. John ELLIS, junior. The first seven of these, it will be noted (if not also the eighth), were members of the Westminster Assembly; the others were, I think, all parish-ministers in or near London. For what we should call Miscellaneous Literature, including Poetry, History, and Philosophy, the licensers appointed were Sir NATHANIEL BRENT (Judge of the Prerogative Court), Mr. John LANGLEY (successor of Gill the younger in the Head-mastership of St. Paul's School), and Mr. FARNABIE. The licensing of Law-Books was to belong to certain designated Judges and Serjeants-at-law; of Books of Heraldry, to the three Herald Kings at Arms; of Mathe

matical Books, Almanacks, and Prognostications, to the Reader in Mathematics at Gresham College for the time being, or a certain Mr. Booker instead; and for things of no consequence-viz. "small pamphlets, portraitures, pictures and the like”—the Clerk of the Stationers' Company for the time being was to be authority enough.'

The effects of this new Ordinance of Parliament were immediately visible. Whether because Parliament itself now seemed in earnest for the control of the Press, or because the new staff of licensers were determined to exercise their powers and earn their perquisites, or because the Master and Wardens of the Stationers' Company then in office felt their hands strengthened and worked hard (Mr. Samuel Bourne was Master, and Mr. Samuel Man and Mr. Richard Whittaker were Wardens), certain it is that authors, printers, and publishers were brought at once into greater obedience. Ten times as many books, pamphlets and papers, we have shown, were duly licensed and registered in the second half of the year 1643, or from the date of the new Ordinance onwards, as had been licensed and registered in the preceding half-year.

Now, it so chanced that the first edition of Milton's Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce had been ready for the press exactly after the new Ordinance had

into operation. What had been his behaviour? He had paid no attention to the Ordinance whatever. He had been one of those " contemners” of it whom the Ordinance itself had taken the precaution of rendering inexcusable by the clause ordering its own publication! The treatise had appeared on or about the 3rd of August, unlicensed and unregistered, just as its predecessors, the Anti-Episcopal pamphlets, had been. Nay, there was this difference, that there was no printer's full name on the title-page of the Divorce treatise, but only the semi-anonymous declaration Printed by T. P. and M. S. in Golilsmiths' Alley.That Milton had acted deliberately in all this there can be no doubt. Not that we need suppose him to have made it a point of honour to outbrave the new law in general by continuing to publish without a licence; but because, in this particular case, he had no choice but to do so, and did not mind doing so. He wanted to publish his new Doctrine of Divorce: was he to go the round of the twelve Reverend Gentlemen who had just been appointed licensers of all books of Theology and Ethics, and wait till he found one of them sufficiently obtuse, or sufficiently asleep, to give his imprimatur to a doctrine so shocking ? Clearly, nothing remained but to get any printer to undertake the treatise that would print it in its unlicensed state, the printer trusting the author and both running the risk. Whatever hesitations the printer may have had, Milton had


i The Ordinance is printed in the Lords Journals under date June 14, 1644. Rushworth prints it under the same date (V. 335-6), and adds the names of the licensers, as appointed by the Commons June 20 and 2i.

2 I ought to note, however, that the swelling-out is caused chiefly by the shoals of Mercuries, Diurnals, Scouts, In

telligencers, &c. that were now registered. These news-sheets of the Civil War, the infant forms of our newspapers, had previously appeared at will ; and there seems to have been particular activity in bringing them under the operation of the Ordinance, so as to deprive Royalism of the aid of the Press.

He had taken no pains to conceal the authorship; and, when he found the doctrine of the treatise in disrepute, he had disdained even the pretence of the anonymous. The second edition, published in February 1643 4, appeared, as the first had done, without licence or registration, and indeed with no more distinct imprint at the foot of the title-page than “ London, Imprinted in the yeare 1664”; but, to make up for this informality, it contained Milton's dedication to the Parliament and the Assembly signed with his name. It was as if he said, “I do break your Ordinance for Printing, but I let you know who I am that do so.” Since then Milton had published two more pamphlets—his Tract on Education, addressed to Hartlib (June 1644), and his Bucer Tract, continuing the Divorce subject (July 1644). In both of these he had conformed to the Ordinance. Both are duly registered in the Stationers' Books, the former as having been licensed by Mr. Cranford (antè, p. 233), the latter by Mr. Downham (antè, p. 255). In licensing the new Divorce Tract, even though it did consist mainly of extracts from Bucer, Mr. Downham must have been either off his guard or very good-natured.


i See full title-pago, antè, p. 44.

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Milton's carelessness or contempt of the Ordinance for Printing had now found him out. The charge of heresy, or of monstrous and dangerous opinion, preferred against him by Palmer and the clergy, was one about which there might be much argument pro and con, and with which most Parliamentary men might not be anxious to meddle. But here, in aid of that charge, another charge, much more definite, had been brought forward. The officials of the Stationers' Company were chosen from year to year; and the Master for the year beginning in the middle of 1644 was Mr. Robert Mead, with Mr. John Parker and Mr. Richard Whittaker for Wardens. It was these persons, if I mistake not, who thought themselves bound, either by sympathy with the horror caused by Milton's doctrine, or by sheer official duty, to oblige Mr. Palmer and his brethren of the Assembly by pointing out that both the editions of Milton's obnoxious pamphlet had been published in evasion of the law. There can be little doubt that the Assembly divines and the London clergy generally were at the back of the affair; but it was convenient for them to put forward others as the nominal

" The Stationers' Company," these accusers virtually said, “ knows nothing of these two publications, and has none of the discredit of them; they are not registered in the Company's books, and do not appear to have been ever licensed ; and, if Mr. Milton, who has avowed himself the author, is to be questioned for the doctrine advanced in them, perhaps it would be well that he should at the same time have the imprints on his two title-pages put before him· Printed by T. P. and M. S. in Goldsmiths Alley,' and 'London, Imprinted in the yeare 1644'-and asked how he dared defy the law in that way, and who the printers are that abetted him.” Such, studying all the particulars, is the most exact interpretation I can put on the Petition of the Stationers' Company to the Commons, Aug. 24, as it affected Milton. There was a trade-feeling behind it. There was a resentment against certain printers and booksellers (probably quite well known to the Master and Wardens) for their contempt of trade-discipline, as well as against Milton for his




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