The opening of this essay, a quote from Euripides, crystallizes Milton's concept of truth (though he would add some caveats):
This is true liberty, when free-born men, /Having to advise the public, may speak free
Truth cannot flourish, Milton says, if people cannot speak their minds freely.
Milton's essay argued against both the requirement that the government license a work before it could be published and against the censorship of ideas that were considered unpopular or radical, such as Milton's advocacy of divorce.
Milton argued that such censorship blunts the mind and is the "stop of truth," as truth cannot flourish in an atmosphere of repression. He contends that truth is important to the health of the state as a whole, not just to individuals, and he argues that truths that are lost in one age may never be recovered. He says that it is against the laws of God to try to abridge or circumvent the truth, which censorship often does. Truths that can't flow steadily like a stream, he says,...
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