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Areopagitica, an impassioned plea by John Milton (1644) for liberation of the press to a Parliament occupied with perceived offences by writers and printers, was written in response to the Licensing Ordinance of 1643 that no book should be printed unless previously approved by an authorized officer. Although aware that liberty was double-edged, Milton abhorred such control before rather than after publication, associating it with censorship in catholic countries and regarding it as discouragement to learning. He was ignored. The licensing system eventually lapsed in 1694, but moral and practical problems relating to censorship remain.

A. S. Hargreaves

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