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Home » , » Discuss the positive arguments against licensing order?
To protest against the licensing order of 1643, John Milton takes up the positive harms and damages which are to be done by this order. These harms can be discussed under four headings   

(i) Learning will be discouraged. The most fatal harm will be found in the field of learning. It will discourage the searching writers to write things with the genuine endeavor. When a man writes something, he summons all his energy, talent, and, industry. But when he will see that all his sincere attempts have been baffled by the hasty glance of a licenser without leisure and perhaps without knowledge, he will no more be inspired to write again. Or if any new ideas come to his mind after the book has been licensed and is yet under the press, the printer will not agree to publish the book without licensing the new portion. This happens very much in the case of the best and most diligent writers. The revision and addition of anything to the book will cease to occur. As a result, the book will be nothing but a hackneyed commonplace matter. The extension of knowledge will stand still. People would be deprived of refinement. They will be ignorant and slothful to remain satisfied with worldly wisdom. The entire society will turn out to be a mass of unenlightened people.

(ii) The whole nation will be insulted. The genius of the nation will be subjected to the intelligence of some licensers. Truth and understanding are not such wares as to be monopolized by few men. So, it will be a great insult if the national genius, progress, and future are left to the judgment of a few licensers.

(iii) The ministry will be discredited: The position of the clergymen, under this order, will be none the better in comparison with the men of business and men of pleasure. Because they will fail to cope with the new situations of life and people will lose faith in them and go elsewhere for the answers to the new problems of life.

(iv) The order is hostile to the truth: Truth is like the waters of the fountain. Truth reveals itself spontaneously like the waters of a fountain which move of their own will. But they will stagnate into a muddy pool of conformity and tradition. This order will drive the clergy to sink into indolence secured by the licensers from any assault upon received opinions. The clergyman will repeat only certain common doctrinal heads--aided by help books and texts which contain ready-made sermons available in the market. This will jeopardize the search for truth but men of a good conscience with a real love of truth ought to wish for open discussion.

This order is, therefore, hostile to the truth as preventing any addition to knowledge. After the sad departure of Christ for heaven, truth has been cut into innumerable pieces and cast to the four winds. So, the friends of truth are now searching for the real pieces of truth. The light of truth which we have gained is given to us to discover things more remote from our knowledge. So, any kind of licensing or prescription will discourage the search for truth-resulting in the creation of jaundice in our eyes.

Milton has correctly pointed out the harms and damages to be done to the flow of knowledge essential for the progress of a nation, and of civilization at large.


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