"A Good Book Is The Precious Life-blood Of A Master-spirit"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: John Milton, in Areopagitica, the world's finest protest against the censorship of books, says that not only would censorship of books deprive us, to our great harm, of the religious knowledge and civil wisdom that have already been accumulated, but it would hamper the gathering of any more. He says that he can understand why the officers of the government might want to censor books, which are not dead things, but which contain in themselves the spirit or essence of those who wrote them. It is almost as bad to kill a book as it is to kill a man: a man is a reasonable creature, made in God's image, but a book is reason itself, and the man who kills a book therefore kills God's image. There is many a man who does nothing more than uselessly encumber the earth, but a good book, produced by a great mind, continues to live on after the physical death of its creator; it takes upon itself an independent life. Milton puts his thought thus:

Many a man lives a burden to the earth; but a good book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.