26 MARCH 1954, Page 16


SIR,---lt would he more to the point if Mr. Herbert van Thal's suggestion that Milton s Areopagitica be made compulsory reading as a text in all schools were extended also t° publishers' offices. Publishers would then, perhaps, no longer regard it, as so many appear to do, as a kind of pornographer s charter, particularly if they pay attention to the following passage: "I deny not but that it is of greatest concernment in the Church and Common' wealth to have a vigilant eye how books demean themselves as well as men; and thereafter to confine, imprison and do sharpest justice on them as malefactors." The A reopagitica is an argument against the State licensing of the Press, but, as the passage t have quoted shows clearly, Milton, whilst opposing state censorship before publi- cation, recognised that there could be punish- ment after publication on proved counts of libel or blasphemy.—Yours faithfully,

J. T. GILLETT Central Library, Willesden Green, N.W.10