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Printing the mind: the economics of authorship in 'Areopagitica.' (poem by John Milton)

18 See Nigel Smith (note 6), who discusses Milton's appropriation of the language of certain Parliamentarians in order to appeal to Parliament.

19 Lipson (note 14), 3:359.

20 Thirsk (note 14), 239.

21 Lipson (note 14), 3:333.

22 Lipson, 3:333. In Areopagitica, Milton presents the extraordinary image of the author who would "print his mind," as if the world of book production consisted only of disembodied intellects and clattering presses.(1) The dissociation of literary activity from its physical concomitants is, as I hope to demonstrate, part of a consistent strategy, suggesting over and over that the licensing "hands" which appear everywhere in the text are unnatural interpositions between the press and "pens and heads ... sitting by their studious lamps, musing, searching, revolving new motions and ideas wherewith to present ... the approaching reformation" (743). The image of "pens and heads ... sitting," without any apparatus attaching writing implement to sitter, sitter to chair, abstracts print-authorship from the physicality of the author, suggesting that any introduction of the physical is unnecessary, even surplus, impeding the exquisite efficiency of the concentrated mind. Indeed the "studious lamps" displace onto external objects any associations with authorial eyestrain, tiredness, periodic page-turning. Milton's author has no body for use in the production of print culture.(2) Thus when the "hands" introduced do not belong to the author, we understand that they affront his mind's self-sufficiency, obtruding on the intimate relationship between author and press.

Such hands subject the author to "the wardship of an overseeing fist" (736). They operate on the embodiment of an author's mind -- the book -- which becomes an object of physical violence, implicating the author in violence through a conceit in which his mind is re-embodied in the printed text:

Unless wariness be used, as good almost kill a man as kill a good book ... he who destroys a good book kills reason itself.... A good book is the precious lifeblood of a master spirit, embalmed and treasured up.... We should be wary, therefore, what persecution we raise against the living labors of public men, how we spill that seasoned life of man preserved and stored up in books; since we see a kind of homicide may be committed, sometimes a martyrdom; and if it extend to the whole impression. a kind of massacre.(720)

Violence towards the author is expressed as violent marking of his texts, which conflates with marks of shame resulting from corporal punishment. Thus the licensor's hands wield the "ferula |a schoolmaster's rod~ and the rescue |a pointer~ of an Imprimatur," humiliating the author so that he "must appear in print like a puppy with his guardian, and his licensor's hand on the back of his title to be his bail and surety that he is no idiot or seducer" (735). Milton uses language of intense physical implication to invest the text with a corporeality that derives from the author as he is merged into the printed text. The sense of physical invasion is acute, so that in occupying the text, the licensor's body -- his hand -- colonizes the position of the author, the authorial body in the text. An author "should never henceforth write, but what were first examined by an appointed officer, whose hand should be annexed to pass his credit for him" (737). Precisely where the licensing hand is "annexed" is unclear: to the printed text, deforming the embodied author like an added third arm? to the disembodied authorial mind antecedent to print, in a logical/physical paradox? In any case, the unnatural appendage attacks the text, defacing it with a "manual stamp" (736). It is the unnaturalness of hands in the production of print culture, which makes the hand of the licensor an excrescence to be justifiably lopped off.

By conferring violent hands on the licensor and depriving the author (antecedent to publication) of hands altogether, Milton sets up sites of authority which he would maintain in mutual exclusivity. The first is the bodiless author, who incarnates himself in printed texts. The second is the physically violent licensor who disrupts authorial expression into text or, in a Foucauldian sense, punishes the author by marking his textualized body.(3) The licensor's hands applied to a printed text testify (by "manual stamp") to their own violation of the author's physical embodiment.(4)

In order for Milton to maintain the unnaturalness of hands in print culture -- and hence justify the excision of licensing hands -- he must maintain as discrete categories the bodiless author who prints his mind, and the licensor with "overseeing fist." Milton's rhetorical strategy therefore requires that he suppress the author's production of a manuscript. By conceding that production, hands are reinstated in print culture, and the licensor's intervention between authorial mind and press is to that extent naturalized. To attack the licensor who would "blot and alter" (736) is simultaneously to subvert one's own strategy for proving the unnaturalness of that alteration. The elided term in Milton's logic -- authorial hands -- remains suppressed only insofar as Milton presses the conceit of the bodiless author. The conceit destabilizes itself when the licensor's involvement in manuscript production is implied, as when Milton complains that the text cannot issue "except it be sifted and strained with their strainers" (736). The licensor's hand disarticulates a manuscript which for lack of authorial hands should not exist, but which is reified for the sake of argument. The tension in Milton's rhetoric created by the strategy of denaturalizing hands in print culture, creates a dialectic in which hands are at once alienated and reinstated. Since the bodiless author is so unstable, Milton resorts to several other rhetorical strategies to distract from this instability. Not the least of these is an equal and opposite grotesquerie of the licensor's body, and his use of it to commit violent acts upon the re-embodied mind of the author in books. In a brilliant move, Milton casts the licensor as middleman between authorial mind and press, and appropriates the language of popular protest against economic middlemen of all kinds. This language invokes the intermeddling "hands" causing economic hardship, and provides Milton with ready signifiers of malign intention. After considering somewhat further the bodiless author's function in Areopagitica, I will discuss Milton's strategies for enforcing an argument centered upon this unstable figure.

Through the conceit of a bodiless author, Milton inverts a notion of authorship based on physical writing, on the creation and transmission of manuscripts, by indulging a fantasy that authorship is not a form of "manual" labor. The mind thinks itself into print, where its re-embodiment is the printed text. Physicality is conferred on agencies that would -- unnaturally -- turn the author back into a "writer," insisting upon his creating a manuscript that they can "blot and alter," disrupting the mind/press relationship. Such agencies attack the manuscript, redesignating the site of the authorial body from the printed text (where it should be, unmediated by hands), to an antecedent position coincident with manuscript production where there should be no body with no hands. Milton's rhetoric resituates the body; the licensor intervenes to restore its natural situation, but within the terms of Milton's fantasy, such restoration entails violence of an unnatural kind. In Milton's (in)version of the natural, where bodiless author is re-embodied in printed text, any mark on that text is a crime, an assault on the body of the author. Any disruption of printing leaves the author vulnerable, hurled into a limbo where no printed text contains his body and where an implied manuscript renaturalizes hands in print culture making a space for the licensing "hands."

As the unnatural (the licensing hand) is constituted within the terms of Milton's conceit, it becomes an agent of sacrilege. Applied to the physical body in books, the licensing practiced by ecclesiastical authorities is the very opposite of a laying on of hands, serving not to heal but to violate the body: when the Popes of Rome took what they "pleased of political rule into their own hands ... |they~ brought forth, or perfected those catalogs and expurging indexes that rake through the entrails of many an old good author with a violation worse than any could be offered to his tomb" (724). Mutilation of the exhumed body suggests a necromancy which the Church itself condemns. Violence towards the bodiless re-embodied is a mockery of the sacrament. Milton inverts Church language to reveal Church hypocrisy as easily as he inverts its ceremonies. "To fill up the measure of their encroachment, their last invention was to ordain that no book, pamphlet, or paper should be printed (as if St. Peter had bequeathed them the keys of the press also out of paradise) unless it were approved and licensed under the hands of two or three glutton friars" (724). The use of "ordain" in this sense is the very opposite of its religious meaning, to sanctify or make holy. One imagines a Chaucerian prelate stuffing his mouth with one hand, dripping fat on a text with the other as he idly turns pages with a drumstick. Milton inverts language to attack enemies of language, enacting their abuses, casting their acts as sacreligious, more horrible than grave-robbing (though eliding his own inversions involving literary production). Licensing, the hand's act, is itself grabbed at by newly meddlesome prelatical hands ("the rare morsel so officiously snatched up and so ill-favoredly imitated by our inquisiturient bishops ...") tainting these hands with Romish sacreligion (725). In the terms of Milton's conceit, the licensing body is a glutton, its hands gluttonous for power.

Milton demands that even though controversial books may be more dangerous to the learned, "those books must be permitted untouched by the licenser" (731). He intensifies the Romish perversion of "ordination" by declaring it no better than the pagan variety: it is necessary "to ordain wisely as in this world of evil.... Nor is it Plato's licensing of books will do this, which necessarily pulls along with it so many others of licensing ..." (733). The dead hand of Plato must not be suffered any more than Rome's, but rather Plato's own "unwritten, or at least unconstraining, laws of virtuous education" should bind together "the commonwealth" (733). The term "unwritten" is a submerged pun, subtly suppressing the manuscript.

At all costs, Milton must cast the licensing hand as morally vestigial--pagan and Romish. It becomes physically vestigial within the conceit of the bodiless author: an appendage impinging on the self-sufficient mind, a deformation of the authorial body incarnated in the printed text. In either case, it is unnatural, commiting unnatural acts. Yet Milton's very insistence on the bodiless author, printing his mind without mediation, catches the logic of the conceit in logistics. The licensor's hold on a manuscript's political integrity forces the author into a relationship with the licensor equal and opposite to the relationship of disembodied author and press. Milton is forced to recognize a degree of authorial physicality antecedent to the printed text as author and licensor negotiate the manuscript. In a fascinating passage Milton, still not conceding hands, acknowledges feet, "trudg|ing~" to the licensor when new ideas "come into |the author's~ mind." The unmediated relationship of mind and press is disturbed by some body part, suggesting others, distracting from direct transmission of ideas to press. While writing hands do not materialize to naturalize the role of hands in book production, authorial feet must transport "his new insertions" for the licensor's "view," silently reifying the manuscript, implying authorial hands after all (735). The pressure on Milton's logic is partially relieved through a reassertion of the author's mind as inseminator of the press, a deft compromise in which the mind acquires only such physicality as ensures its reproduction while the press, as womb for the mind's infinite reproductive potential, bears the weight of corporeality:

And what if the author shall be one so copious of fancy as to have many things well worth the adding, come into his mind after licensing, while the book is yet under the press, which not seldom happens to the best and diligentest writers; and that perhaps a dozen times in one book. The printer dares not go beyond his licensed copy. So often then must the author trudge to his leave-giver, that those his new insertions may be viewed, and many a jaunt will be made, ere that licenser, for it must be the same man, be found, or found at leisure. Meanwhile, either the press must stand still, which is no small damage, or the author lose his accuratest thoughts and send the book forth worse than he had made it, which to a diligent writer is the greatest melancholy and vexation that can befall. (735)

The press is organic, capable of unstoppable reproduction, and absolutely fecund; the author is still just a flimsy construct of a mind with appended legs. The conscription of any authorial limbs into book production is resisted. This relatively "platonic" involvement of author and press in the reproductive function contrasts with the licensor's assault on the authorial body in books, which is without reservation "all hands." It conditions positively the statement that books should be read "promiscuously" (729): where there is no prior restraint, "knowledge" defeats its own carnal potential since "the knowledge and survey of vice ... is so necessary to the constituting of human virtue" (729). Milton invokes the sexual implications of words only to deflect them towards the creative, thereby fusing authorial freedom with that of the individual to create from language a virtuous life. That language contains within it the capacity to shift energy, without any external requirement, is the essential logic of Milton's argument, demonstrated in his own choice and modulation of words. In effect, Milton proves that there should be no officious intermeddlers in the private act of literary (pro)creation. He argues that until the Popes began licensing, "books were ever as freely admitted into the world as any other birth; the issue of the brain was no more stifled than the issue of the womb" (725). "The issue of the brain" is now to be transmitted through the press, even more efficiently and with less physicality than when books were copied by scribes.

In an effort to maintain the pressure on licensors as uncouth and without judgment, Milton actually acknowledges at one point that authors produce manuscripts: "There is no book that is acceptable unless at certain seasons; but to be enjoined the reading of that at all times, and in a hand scarce legible ... is an imposition which I cannot believe how he that values time and his own studies, or is but of a sensible nostril, should be able to endure" (734). The manuscript is made to seem repugnant, an embarrassment which gentlemen might conspire to forget (in which case, no licensor would touch it). Why should the "hand" be presumed "scarce legible," except for the sake of argument? The notional manuscript is invoked to be discarded in a ploy not inconsistent with Milton's famous debating techniques. To reduce the manuscript to an unreadable quibble is to efface it as a site for contesting power, enforcing the fiction that print culture requires no hands.(5)

In another instance, Milton refers specifically to the writer's hand, where he asks "if anyone would write and bring his helpful hand to the slow-moving reformation ... who hath so bejesuited us that we should trouble that man with asking license ...?" (748). It is Milton's most explicit acknowledgment of an authorial hand. and one might ask why in this instance Milton breaches his own categories. If one assumes that he is referring to the printed text, then the problem vanishes, since the "hand" would be consistent with Milton's logic reconstituting the author's body in the printed text. Yet Milton's effacement of manuscript production in Areopagitica is incomplete, so one must look for another answer. Milton frequently invokes helping hands, and this hand is involved with that trope, a hand intended to push as much as to write. The work of reformation needs labor, a when "the temple of the Lord was building, some cutting, some squaring the marble, others hewing the cedars" (744). The manual labor invoked here has its equivalent in virtuous mental labor. Milton refers to occasions "when a man hath been laboring the hardest labor in the deep mines of knowledge" (746). The author is cast as a laborer, a soldier in the Wars of Truth, his hands extending a righteous will and only incidentally inscribing a text. Milton wonders why, after such monumental effort, licensing should bar the way. The authorial hand, associated specifically with the work of reformation, affiliates authors with labor that is productive, the product being truth: "See the ingenuity of Truth, when, when she gets a free and willing hand, opens herself..." (731). In these instances, "hands" are virtuous and empowered. They represent the force that is brought to bear in constituting reformation.(6) Such references do not seriously undermine the conceit of bodiless author by implying a manuscript, even as they affiliate intellectual labor with the work of the Lord.(7)

Indeed, the contrast between bodiless author and gluttonous licensor with clenched fist, configures the central irony of the text. Milton asserts that he should not be condemned for "introducing license while I oppose licensing" (720), which introduction raises the possibility that unlicensed authors may be dangerously unrestrained. Yet Milton overturns this possibility since it is the licensors who are licentious, as immoderate in their consumption of food as in their zeal to stifle opinion. In defending the right to choose, Milton argues that when God gave man reason, it was for the purpose of choosing, and that virtue exists in self-control: "Wherefore did he create passions within us... but that these rightly tempered are the very ingredients of Virtue?" (733). It is precisely these "rightly tempered" passions that the licensors lack. Indeed, not only the practitioners but the practice is licentious, by its very nature drawing within its grip every pastime that might corrupt:

For if they fell upon one kind of strictness, unless their care were equal to regulate all other things of like aptness to corrupt the mind, that single endeavor they knew would be but a fond labor; to shut and fortify one gait against corruption, and be necessitated to leave others round about wide open. If we think to regulate printing, thereby to rectify manners, we must regulate all recreations and pastimes, all that is delightful to man.(732)

It is Milton's strategy to demonstrate that "licensing" entails "license," and that if one wants a society truly free of "license," one must provide the wherewithal -- opinion -- through which man may come to a true sense of virtue. "All opinions," he asserts, "yea errors, known, read, and collated, are of main service and assistance toward the speedy attainment of what is truest" (727).(8) Milton turns the tables, exculpating the bodiless author from any association with "license," while implicating therein the licensor who stifles the means for attaining truth.

In this connection, it is notable that the interpolated "hands" in Milton's text resonate with the many meanings of "hand." These create a complex of suggestion around the hand of the licensor, both sinister and ironic, merging into the surface text as if put there by the invisible hand of language itself. Language as an inescapable phenomenon, beyond the hand of the licensor to control, displays itself, proving Milton's point that licensing is ineffective against forms of expression that ramify endlessly. The politics in language, its embedded congeries of contending implication, defeats an external politics of language that would institute a monolith through a monologue. Linguistic complexity, the multivalenced tendency of words, resists the univocal simplifications of licensing, and reflects the multivocal republicanism required, in Milton's view, to produce the clash of opinion that finally produces truth. Debate is naturalized because it inheres in the nature of language, and the interposition of licensing hands is once again shown to be unnatural. The Oxford English Dictionary (1989) indicates that "hand" is used "in reference to the hand for grasping, holding or retaining; hence used to denote possession, custody, charge, authority, power, disposal." To invoke the licensing hand while suppressing its authorial counterpart, suggests the licensor's arrogation of power, though in Milton's unstable logic, applying any hand to the manuscript reconstitutes the authorial hand. However, even where the authorial hand is implied, it always lacks the power of disposal except if the author defies the law as indeed Milton does. There is therefore in Areopagitica a dialectic within the meaning of "hand," in which assertion of power by the licensor demonstrates the author's relative powerlessness, even undermining conceits which empower him to attack the licensor; this creates the option of acknowledging the fiction, seizing the manuscript, and printing it without license.

The OED notes further that "hand" is used "in reference to a person as the source from which something is obtained ... as the source of information ... as the supplier of goods: in phrases denoting rate or price (at the best hand)." This meaning is opposite that of the grasping hand, loosening its grip on univocality. The resonance of a discoursing hand is ironic, since by withholding his imprimatur the licensor restrains information; God, by contrast, will "dispense and deal out" truth (748). The mercantile reference is interesting in light of the mercantilist discourse (discussed below) that informs Areopagitica, valorizing the free flow of goods and aligning the text with this freedom against the constraints of licensing, which are analogized to market manipulations.

The OED also notes that "hand" refers to "the action of the hand in writing and its product; handwriting, style of writing." "Style" suggests the potential for agency and individuality, which again resonates ironically since it is agency and individuality that the licensing hand suppresses. Yet the irony is unstable, since Milton's author eschews his own hand by escaping into print, avoiding the vagaries of handwriting (except for the sake of argument), achieving agency not by writing but by "print|ing~ his mind". Thus he escapes the cumbersomeness of manuscript transmission, assisting dissemination of texts while the licensor, contending with "a hand scarce legible," stops the press. This incomplete irony, compounded of conflicting tendencies in the construction of authorship, is precisely the clash from which Truth emerges. The alternatives configure Milton's authorial path from manuscript (for example, Comus) to print, giving the text a submerged autobiographical component culminating in its own production. In this regard, compare Milton's ideology of print in Areopagitica with his posture in Henry Lawes's dedication to Comus: "Although not openly acknowledged by the Author, yet it is a legitimate offspring ... so much desired, that the often Copying of it hath tired my Pen to give my several friends satisfaction, and brought me to a necessity of producing it to the public view" (86). A more assertive Milton (ten years later) can flood the market.

Milton's exploitation of the ironies implicit in the absence of authorial hands broadens into the ironies implicit in the fact that No-body shows up to deliver "Areopagitica, a Speech ... For the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing, To the Parliament of England." Milton states that he is "wanting such access in a private condition" (717), but then why style the piece a "speech" in the first place, if there is no possibility of delivering it? The reason, is to announce the disparity between ostensible occasion and actual delivery, to mark the text as always already exceeding its occasion, inviting an infinitely multiplying audience waiting on an infinitely fecund press.(9) The proposal for a limited delivery is therefore but a rhetorical strategy; Milton intends his text to circulate, to join the clamor of opinion beyond Parliament. That the text appears in print unlicensed is a measure of its status as opinion, in Milton's view not legitimately licensable. By withdrawing from speech into print, Milton forgoes a form of unmediated delivery in which the author can, to a degree, control the reception of his words by responding directly to an audience. The very act of sacrificing this immediacy, and announcing the sacrifice, emphasizes Milton's avoidance of another form of mediation much more damaging than print: licensing. It is a fascinating strategy. The text enacts its author's demand that the licensor not stifle the means for attaining "what is truest."

Milton's argument against intermediaries is, then, about the "means of production" of truth. These exist not antecedent to an author's utterance (in the simplifications of the licensing process), but in the contributions of unfettered authors, the disputations of reasonable men, and each man's evaluations through his God-given reason. Truth emerges, and to ordain it in advance is to stifle its production.(10) In dismissing the usefulness of prior restraint -- of intervention between the author's mind and the fecund press -- Milton uses the language of contemporary commerce, heavily loaded against factors, staplers, engrossers, agents and middlemen of all kinds, who were seen as stifling the free flow of goods for their own advantage. Again and again, popular tracts as well as Parliament's own reports, decry the "hands" of these middlemen, tying up and throttling the supply of commodities traditionally available without their constraints. Such hands, infiltrated into Milton's prose, serve as markers and identify affinities between Areopagitica and the discourse of popular protest and Parliamentary response.(11) The text's involvement with the outrage against middlemen is hard to recover without examining these tracts in context, and it is this which I shall attempt to do.(12)

In demonstrating that licensing arose as a Popish perversion, Milton states that "the Popes of Rome, engrossing what they pleased of political rule into their own hands, extended their dominion over men's eyes as they had before over their judgments" (723-24). Claiming later that these eyes have now cleared -- "methinks I see |England~ as an eagle ... kindling her undazzled eyes at the full midday beam; purging and unscaling her long-abused sight" (745) -- he asks Parliament:

What should ye do then, should ye suppress all this flowery crop of knowledge and new light sprung up and yet springing daily in the city? Should ye set an oligarchy of twenty engrossers over it, to bring a famine upon our minds again, when we shall know nothing but what is measured to us by their bushel? (745)(13)

The abuses of engrossing had been frequently articulated in the half-century preceding Areopagitica. In 1590, Lord Burghley was asked to restrain the engrossing of corn by badgers, and to forbid their forestalling the market by buying up the crop at farmers' houses.(14) The year 1597 was one of high prices, and the Government attributed the distress of the poor to the "insatiable desire of such as do forestall and engross for their particular lucre."(15) Justices of the peace were pressed to deal severely with all corn-jobbers, forcing them to supply the market and overruling their high prices. When the justices failed to respond, the Government remonstrated on behalf of "the poor people |who~ find no remedy."(16) Engrossing of basic foodstuffs was perceived to be a persistent problem, which perception the Government shared. As Walter and Wrightson state: "The |grain~ badger's activities were always liable to be viewed with suspicion within the markets from which he obtained his supplies. An explanation of dearth which centered upon the malpractices of the middlemen was most evident among communities in grain-producing regions which found local grain being increasingly taken to supply urban markets in years of harvest failure.... Popular explanations |of dearth~ were derived from customary views of the ideal ordering of economic transactions, firmly centred on the marketplace, informed by the notions of the just price and the conscionable course of dealing and governed by the imperative of maintaining neighborly harmony and well-being. They were confirmed by the government."(17) Milton's analogy of licensor/middlemen to middlemen in grain, inserts Areopagitica into a popular discourse which was itself informed by an official ideology that condemned middlemen. Since this discourse had the force of law behind it, Milton at once affiliates his argument with strong popular sentiment while challenging the government on its own terms.(18) Engrossing did not appear to abate. During the 1601 Parliament, one member cried out that "the principallest commodities are engrossed into the hand of those blood-suckers of the commonwealth," and another declared that "if order be not taken for these, bread will be there |that is, in the hands of engrossers~ before the next Parliament."(19) Joan Thirsk points out that "the dominant theme of the pamphlet literature of 1500-1640 was depopulation and its various causes.... |which included~ engrossing of farms, because it drove small men off the land."(20) Areopagitica is contemporaneous with the outcry against middlemen, and its rhetoric, reflecting the language of that outcry by invoking malign hands, gives Milton's plea against licensor/middlemen of the immediacy of everyday life (exacerbated by a half-century of persistent abuse).

Nor was engrossing limited to foodstuffs and the land on which they were grown. The leather workers, who obtained incorporation as the Glovers' Company in 1638, complained that the leather-sellers, "if once they put their griping hands betwixt the grower or the merchant" and the users of leather, "never part with the commodities they buy till they sell them at their own pitched rates, without either regard or care whether the workman be able to make his money thereof or no."(21) In 1606, Parliament itself intervened to protect the artisan skinners from engrossers of skins who "so draw the whole trade into their own hands and work the same in their own houses."(22) There is a continuity between this rhetoric and Milton's in that both invoke overreaching hands, assigning such hands respectively to middlemen engrossers and middlemen licensors. Both sets of hands display a power to choke off necessities -- commodities or opinion, as the case may be -- hurting their respective producers and consumers. This rhetorical continuity suggests to a reader of popular petitions and Parliamentary reports that the hand of the licensor, because it is a hand belonging to a middleman, bears a taint, and is affiliated with hands that orchestrate anti-social commercial practices. Milton's text operates by analogy, and attempts to integrate a plea for removal of licensing hands with popular pleas for controlling engrossers, who in the literature are defined by inimical hands. By the same logic, Milton's text flatters Parliament by using Parliamentary language, and establishes a precedent for a positive response.

The domestic wool trade was, of course, the major area of activity for engrossers. An Elizabethan document describes yarn brokers as "|d~ivers evil-disposed persons, commonly called yarn-choppers or jobbers of woolen yarn, wanting the fear of God, and caring only for their own private gain, without having any regard to the maintenance of the commonwealth ... do in every fair and market buy up and get into their hands so great quantities of woolen yarn that the clothiers ... are driven for their necessity sake to buy the same at their hands deceitfully handled, and at such unreasonable prices as they list to set upon the same, whereby the clothiers ... are very greatly hindered, and such drones, idle members and evil weeds in a commonwealth, by such oppressions maintained and greatly enriched."(23) The rhetoric of hands is associated with hated middlemen. A half century later, it was officially reported that "the engrossers, jobbers and broggers do go between the bark and the tree," since they forestalled the clothier in making his purchases of wool from the grower, resulting in an increased price for cloth as well as lowered quality.(24) The sense that such intervention is unnatural is tellingly expressed in the wonderful phrase "between the bark and the tree," along with the sense that engrossing can ultimately kill. Milton's own rhetorical strategy incorporates such metaphors. As engrossing kills trade, licensing kills books, and thereby murders reason. The notion threads its way through Milton's text ("almost kill a man as kill a good book ... he who destroys a good book, kills reason itself" |720~, "he who is made judge to sit upon the birth or death of books ... had need to be a man above the common measure" |734~). If one were a reader of pamphlets sensitive to their rhetoric, the concatenation of such rhetoric and Milton's pleas against licensing middlemen would have suggested the analogy between stifling honest production of goods and honest production of a text.

Milton uses the strong prejudice against middlemen in the surreal portrait of the "wealthy man," who may himself be rich from intermeddling but who hires a "factor" as custodian of his religion. A 1623 order of the London common council noted that "divers persons have cunningly interposed themselves to deal as factors and brokers between the merchant, draper and clothier" thereby advancing the price of cloth "at their will."(25) As a result of complaints, factors were forbidden to "intermeddle," and action was taken reforming factors' abuses on grounds that they were "a kind of people aiming only at their own profit ... |u~ntil there were factors |clothiers, merchants and drapers~ were all quiet."(26) The factor in Milton's portrait produces a kind of dissociated sensibility in the wealthy man with the suggestion that, likewise, licensing will have a depressive effect, coming between every man and the encounters that finally yield truth. The language of commerce saturates the text:

A wealthy man addicted to his pleasure and to his profits, finds religion to be a traffic so entangled, and of so many piddling accounts, that all mysteries he cannot skill to keep a stock going upon that trade. What should he do? (739)(27)

He "resolves to give over toiling, and to find himself out some factor to whose care and credit he may commit the whole managing of his religious affairs" (740). The factor obtains "custody" of the man's "whole warehouse of religion," including the keys, interposing his hands respecting the man's most intimate relationship, that between himself and God. The man's religion is "now no more within himself," but when that religion returns to the house at night he "is liberally supped ... and better breakfasted than he whose morning appetite would have gladly fed on green figs between Bethany and Jerusalem" (740). The factor/religion feasts -- again -- while the rich man's soul, like the victims of corn engrossing, is starved for truth. It is a brilliant cameo. The factor makes off with what is truly valuable, preventing the man from communing with God, alienating him from himself.

The portrait is followed by another, again invoking economic abuses, rake-offs by the king and tax-gatherers:

Another sort there be, when they hear that all things shall be ordered, all things regulated and settled, nothing written but what passes through the custom-house of certain publicans that have the tonnaging and poundaging of all free-spoken truth, will straight give themselves up into your hands, make 'em and cut em out what you please. (740)

The result is "an obedient unanimity ... a fine conformity" (740). Contrast the idle rakers-off with those whose "business" it is to write, to expound truth in the marketplace of ideas:

Christ urged it as wherewith to justify himself that he preached in public; yet writing is more public than preaching; and more easy to refutation, if need be, there being so many whose business and profession merely it is, to be champions of truth; which if they neglect, what can be imputed but their sloth or unability? (741)

In this extraordinary passage, Milton (who is surely among these "champions of truth") constitutes himself as much a man of "business" as the foregoing "wealthy man." The difference is that the writer/Milton produces truth -- not mere show -- because with no intermediary between himself and truth he exposes his writing "to refutation," to the process in which truth will emerge. Commerce is intellectualized as the exchange among men concerned with (producing) truth. It is interesting that just as the wealthy man was divided from his religion, "in the shop all day trading without" it, Milton can be a man of business "and profession," the latter term having religious as well as commercial associations. He does not suffer from a dissociation of sensibility, a division of mind and spirit such as intermediation -- that is, licensing --is all too prone to produce.

In Milton's marketplace of ideas, truth is commodified:

There is yet behind of what I purposed to lay open, the incredible loss and detriment that this plot of licensing puts us to. More than if some enemy at sea should stop up all our havens and ports and creeks, it hinders and retards the importation of our richest merchandise, truth. (741)

According to economic theory prevailing during the mid-seventeenth century, it was the greatest nightmare that shipping might be impaired. England, so the theory held, should be self-sufficient, exporting as much as possible while importing only neccesities, so that its balance of trade would show a positive cash flow.(28) The importation of luxuries was regarded as inimical to the accumulation of bullion, by which wealth was measured. To argue that truth may need to be imported emphasized its great importance. Moreover, there is implicit reference to an actual importation, since Lilburne had been arrested on account of his involvement with illegal importation of books from Holland. The text thus confers legitimacy on the free flow of sectarian "opinion" by invoking established economic theory, inscribing the sectarian text as an indispensable commodity. The argument also situates the producer of "opinion" within the international republic of letters, which operated from various Protestant centers on the continent to provide an outlet for books and ideas not tolerated by orthodox regimes. The "republic" grew with the printing press and developed the same elaborate networks that characterized international trade.(29) In constituting himself an author within the marketplace of ideas, Milton becomes a man of "business" submitting to competitive forces at the site where truth is produced. His purpose in teaching is to extend the market for truth, to command market forces in his favor, and so he must assure that channels of distribution remain unclogged.(30) In the discourse of commodity trading in which Milton's rhetoric is embedded, truth is impressed with the qualities of merchandise, circulating among whomever is interested, incapable of stasis. This "impression" is reinforced at the literal level, as truth merges into its reification in the printed, authorial product available for sale.(31) Areopagitica, the "speech" that is a book, enacts the market phenomenon.

In a brilliant article on Areopagitica, Christopher Kendrick writes:

The formation of a unified market is a critical development in the transition to capitalism, and under capitalism the market takes on an unwonted importance in the life of the individual: the individual's relation to society comes to be obscurely mediated by the market -- governed, that is, by the reified market categories which now take on a dynamic of their own. It is one effect of this reification that the market itself should acquire a natural metaphorical power, and thus the market apparatus comes to generate a corresponding ideological apparatus, what will be called "the marketplace of ideas," which is not so much an idea as a mental set or structure for the entertainment of ideas. Areopagitica is a landmark, in its way, in the formation of this market ideology, and this, I think, is how one may account for its continuing ideological force. Its essential argument is for a free circulation of ideas: "Truth is our most valuable commodity," Milton argues, and it must not be monopolized.(32)

It is precisely the "metaphorical power" of the emergent capitalist economy that informs Milton's text, so that the values of that economy impress themselves on his very language.(33) These values are enlisted by Milton, who presses them as implicit contradictions to the ideology of state regulation expressed in licensing. Yet there is in Milton something more, something inescapably domestic and much less "ideologically" abstract in his invocation of engrossing corn-jobbers, high-living factors, and privileged tax-collectors. The activities of these men -- and they are men (with hands), not impersonal market forces -- also inform his language, and give his arguments a compelling immediacy. These agents, middlemen and engrossers are out of an older order of pure grasping greed, and they conjure a particular terror that is anti-communal. Milton's text, therefore, does not just enact the (theoretical) free market by commodifying truth. It is continuous with the experiential insofar as "experience" was constructed from the economic abuses of middlemen in everyday life, as well as from discourse inveighing against such abuses in terms (among others) of hands. The market is not present in the text as mere metaphor. Milton literalizes his rationale against licensing, which could potentially encompass all experience (not stopping at books) because "whatever thing we hear or see, sitting, walking, travelling, or conversing, may be fitly called our book" (733).(34)

In one of the most frequently cited passages of text, Milton might be said to resist the commodification of truth, to wish it outside any market. Yet in fact he acknowledges that it is a commodity, and pleads only that the trade in truth not be monopolized by any group licensed to set terms under which exchanges may take place. His invocation of abuses by domestic wool staplers, and indeed of the whole crew of infamous monopolists grown up since the reign of Elizabeth, would have made this point clear to any contemporary reader:

Truth and understanding are not such wares as to be monopolized and traded in by tickets and standards. We must not think to make a staple commodity of all the knowledge in the land, to mark and license it like our broad-cloth and our woolpacks. (736-37)

Truth and understanding are not "such" wares as to be stapled, but they are wares to be freely traded. The principal group of wool dealers was the Society of Staplers, which since 1617 had been empowered to buy wool anywhere in England and sell it at more than twenty home "staples." Under the Commonwealth, the common council of London enquired into the Staple, found it unnecessary, and exposed its abuses. Prior to that time, there had been continual complaints. To avoid stapling wool would return the economy to a previous, unhampered system of exchange. The analogy between book licensing and wool stapling is constructed by juxtaposing woolpacks, marked and licensed, to books which bear the same signifiers. The threat to Truth is therefore the same as to the trade in wool: in each case, similarly vulnerable "wares" could be permitted onto or withheld from the market depending on the whim of a middleman monopolist. As we would not constrain one commodity, we should not want to constrain the other.

Indeed, the whole history of royal patents of monopoly granted to fill the coffers and reward the friends of Elizabeth, James and Charles is one long series of vexations, and Milton thoroughly exploits it. In 1622, Malynes, in Consuetudo vel Lex Mercatoria, described a monopoly as "a kind of commerce in buying, selling, changing or bartering, usurped by a few and sometimes but by one person ... whereby ... the liberty of trade is restrained from others |and~ the monopolist is enabled to set a price of commodities at his pleasure" (214). In 1604 Parliament defined it as "a private or disordered engrossing for the enhancing of prices, for a private purpose, to a public prejudice."(35)

A report made to the Admiralty in 1630 stressed the intrusiveness of the saltpetre patentees, "digging in all places without distinction, as in parlours, bedchambers, threshing and malting floors, yea, God's own house," and the destruction that resulted.(36) The "straining and sifting" invoked by Milton, the voyeuristic snooping entailed in policing "all that is delightful," reflects the same frustration at the minute poring over and boring into the products of an authorial mind.

In 1601, Parliament singled out the monopoly on salt for particular attack, noting the exorbitant price rise. In 1635, the salt trade was vested in the Society of Salt Makers at the North and South Shields, which through a prohibition on imports was protected from foreign competition. This was accompanied by a suppression of independent production at home. The resulting price rise damaged the fishing industry and injured shipping, two bulwarks of mercantilism. The patent was eventually revoked by the Long Parliament, and exposed the inherent contradictions of a policy formulated without regard to its effect on the economy at large. Of course, the whole fiasco resonates in Milton's own arguments regarding the sheer uselessness of licensing, as well as its potential for damage:

Do we not see -- not once or oftener, but weekly -- that continued court-libel against the Parliament and City printed, as the wet sheet can witness, and dispersed among us, for all that licensing can do? (732)

In Pym's The Kingdome's Manifestation, published just a year before Areopagitica, the indictment of Stuart rule laid stress upon the infinite mischiefs of monopolies. He noted that "the impairing the goodness and enhancing the price of most of the commodities and manufactures of the realm, yea, of those who are of most necessary and common use, as salt, soap, beer, coals and infinite others, that, under colour of licenses, trades and manufactures are restrained to a few hands; |that monopolies~ have been very chargable to the kingdom and brought very little treasure into his majesty's coffers."(37) The presence of hands in this recitation arguably functions, as it does in so many previous accounts of economic abuse, as a signifier, identifying a discourse directed against middlemen. The texts bearing this signifier acknowledge an affiliation with each other (that is, they form a discourse). Milton, inserting himself into this discourse, adopting its logic and moral support, uses the same, identifying signifier. He establishes a provenance in previous texts, which each text in succession intensifies.

At the very end of his text, Milton reminds us again of monopolists, even while claiming not to understand their machinations:

For this authentic Spanish policy of licensing books, if I have said aught, will prove the most unlicensed book itself within a short while.... And how it got the upper hand of your precedent order so well constituted before ... it may be doubted there was in it the fraud of some old patentees and monopolizers in the trade of bookselling; who under pretense of the poor in their Company not to be defrauded, and the just retaining of each man his several copy (which God forbid should be gainsaid) brought divers glosing colors to the House, which were indeed but colors, and serving to no end except it be to exercise a superiority over their neighbors; men who do not, therefore, labor in an honest profession to which learning is indebted, that they should be made other men's vassals. Another end is thought was aimed at by some of them in procuring by petition this Order, that of having power in their hands, malignant books might be easier scape abroad, as the event shows. (749)

The passage is fascinating in its association of licensing with monopoly and monopoly with feudalism, implying once again that all the present mischief harks back to times of Popish dominion. While not quite historically accurate, Milton cannily reminds Parliament that so many monopolies justified on the grounds that they would regulate or encourage an industry, or at least raise money for the crown, were in fact instruments for abuse.(38) Indeed, it was the Stationers Company which encouraged Parliament to adopt the order against which Milton complains, but this was the result of the Company's feeling competition from provincial booksellers. The Company traded its continued policing of the book trade in exchange for maintenance of its traditional monopolies.

Milton's analogy to the dark ages ("Spanish policy") recapitulates his argument, invoking again the origins of licensing in the Inquisition. There is a chilling suggestion that the abuses of that time persist in the present moment. In the same vein, the stifling hands reappear -- twice -- to indict the abuses in Milton's own profession. As in his previous uses of this signifier, the hands connote an arrogation of power ("how it got the upper hand"), in this case ascribing to the licensing order a malign power over Parliament itself, restraining its own dissemination of good law. The hands reflect the animus in the monopolists' use of power ("power in their hands, malignant books might easier scape abroad"). They affiliate the indictment of printing with indictments of middlemen throughout the text where malign hands are invoked, and with a discourse against middlemen which had been developing for half a century. By creating and invoking a common signifier, such indictments implicate each other.

As Frederick Siebert points out, by 1640 the Stationers Company had become an instrument of repression, concentrating the printing trade into a few hands and freezing out journeymen printers.(39) In 1641 the journeymen presented Parliament with a memorial of their grievances in a tract entitled Scintilla, or a Light Broken Into darke Warehouses. With Observations Upon the Monopolists of Seaven severall Patents, and Two Charters. Practised and performed, By a Mistery of some Printers, Sleeping Stationers, and Combining Book-sellers. Anatomised And layd open in a Breviat, in which is only a touch of their forestalling and ingrossing of Books in Pattents, and Raysing them to excessive prices. Left to the Consideration of the High and Honourable House of Parliament now assembled. The printer's name is not given, and the cover states "Printed, not for profit, but for the Common Weles good: and no where to be sold, but some where to be given." No author is identified; it has been attributed to George Wither but the Wing Catalogue identifies Michael Sparke. What is fascinating about the tract apart from its title is its use of malign "hand" imagery in connection with monopolists -- violent tying of books to stakes, criminal picking of printers' pockets:

Accedence, this Book by chance a yeare a goe broke loose from the Stake of the Monopolist, and was sold at six shillings in the pound cheaper then they sell them: but they have by Combination tyed him to the Stake again: for observe, if the old Partners cannot agree together, the Young will, though so Indirect.

The Monopolist keep all others from Printing Concordances by their Patent, and these being Printed in another Volume beyond Sea, and brought over, and sold at half their prise, they seize and take them from others, and sell them again themselves, although theirs be not to be had here: So have they likewise seized other Books Printed beyond the Seas, when not any printed here were to be had.

But touch of this: for it is too tart, and I verily beleeve picks the Subjects pockets, that eats brown bread to fill the sleeping Stationers belly with Venison and Sacke, and robs the Common-wealth in too still away.(40)

The passage is eloquent evidence that Milton's text is situated within a discourse of protest having its own identifying signifiers: malign, anti-communal, confiscatory hands, in this case murdering books and picking pockets. These signifiers inhabit Milton's text in the description of his own profession, creating the immediacy of a breaking story. They are the product of print culture, of the circulating pamphlet, now come round to indict print culture itself. It is fascinating to trace a continuity between books tied to a stake, Milton's invocation of the Inquisition as the start of licensing, and his repeated assertions that books can be murdered: anti-catholicism is conscripted against censors and monopolists, and the criminal hands of each are fungible. They tie up books and pick printers' pockets, they smash debate with their "fists."

Milton's rhetorical strategy discloses its provenance, and hence the objectives of the tract, even while he is making his plea. The provenance is a discourse of outrage against the abuses of middlemen, which had been developing in print culture for the half-century preceding Areopagitica. Milton adopts a signifier -- malign hands -- so common in the discourse that it functions to identify it; to that degree his arguments derive rhetorical as well as moral support from a spectrum of appeals denouncing abuses analogous to licensing (and in many instances actually requiring a license).

The difficulty with this strategy, is that in order to make it work, Milton must distance the very product he seeks to protect from hands -- a manuscript -- from the very apparatus that creates it, hands. None of the other tracts against middlemen are similarly caught, and Milton must develop tactics of his own. On occasion, the rhetorical cruxes become apparent. Nevertheless, in view of Milton's rhetorical affiliation with the discourse condemning intermeddling "hands," his association of "helping" hands with the mental work of authorship, and his recuperative strategies involved with acknowledging a manuscript, the bodiless author seems a successful contender against an authority which is all hands.

University of Pennsylvania


The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of David Norbook and Peter Stallybrass in the preparation of this article.

1 Areopagitica in John Milton: Complete Poems and Major Prose, ed. Merritt Y. Hughes (New York: Macmillan, 1957), 735. Further page references to Milton in the text refer to this edition.

2 On Areopagitica in the larger context of redefinitions of the body in the seventeenth century, see Francis Barker, The Tremulous Private Body: Essays in Subjection (New York: Methuen, 1984).

3 See Michel Foucault, "What Is an Author?" in Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist Criticism, ed. J. Harari (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1979), 141-60, 148: "Texts, books, and discourses really began to have authors ... to the extent that authors became subject to punishment, that is, to the extent that discourses could be transgressive." Milton terms licensing "disgraceful punishment" (737). Compare Abbe Blum, "The author's authority: Areopagitica and the labour of licensing," in Re-membering Milton: Essays on the Texts and Traditions, ed. Mary Nyquist and Margaret W. Ferguson (New York: Methuen, 1987), 74-96. Blum notes "Milton's desire both to repudiate and to embrace a discourse of power associated with a principle of authorial autonomy," and argues that "the problem inherent in this principle of autonomy appears when in Areopagitica we see Milton defining an ideal of authorial independence that seems inseparable from the perception of threats to that ideal. In arguing for the author's right not to be touched, initially, by the state or any individual, Milton in fact indicates the extent to which such intervention is inevitable, is indeed a precondition of the subject's desire for discursive power" (74-75).

4 With regard to writing as the hand's physical act, see Jonathan Goldberg, Writing Matter: From the Hands Of The English Renaissance (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1990). By examining writing manuals from the Renaissance, Goldberg demonstrates that the "hand" is involved with the production of writing through violence, sculpting a quill and marking parchment or paper (chapter two). Milton's suppression of the violent writing hand renders the licensor's violence sui generis.

5 Goldberg (note 4) argues that complex class negotiations associated with writing a fine italic hand resulted in suppressing personally distinctive script in favor of a "hand" that marked the writer as belonging to the upper classes (see chapter three). While Milton would disclaim the physical act of writing, he nonetheless plays on the notion that no writing master (or even manual) would have tutored the authorial hand. For the sake of argument, that hand inscribes its own (non-elitist) idiosyncracies and remains a chore to read.

6 Milton contrasts the production of Truth, which requires work, to an economy of laziness in which prior restraints on expression cancel strenuous mental labor: "Another sort there be, who, when they hear that all things shall be ordered, all things regulated and settled ... will straight give themselves up into your hands make 'em and cut 'em out what religion ye please. There be delights, there be recreations and jolly pastimes.... What need they torture their heads with that which others have taken so strictly.... These are the fruits which a dull ease and cessation of our knowledge will bring forth" (741). The production of Truth requires individual acts of intellectual labor, multiplied, refracted through public discourse. The mind's work is still "labor." The hand of the licensor perverts the notion of manual labor and, indeed, of any labor since its provenance is an economy of laziness that opposes the production of truth. See for example Nigel Smith, "Areopagitica: Voicing Contexts, 1643-45," in Politics, Poetics and Hermeneutics in Milton's Prose, ed. David Loewenstein and James Turner (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1990), 103-22: "By using the trope of books as men, Milton finds an apt metaphor of many collaborating bodies, healthy in their active juxtapositions, as opposed to the dominant royalist image of the body politic" (117). Books are not only men, but authors, and it is in that reified form that the author affiliates most particularly with manual laborers. In The Reason of Church Government Urged Against Prelaty (1642), Milton famously refers to his own activities as an author in prose (as opposed to poetry) as "but of my left hand" (667). The association is with writing as personal vocation, which in the case of prose composition is (for Milton) the lesser calling.

7 It is consistent with Milton's logic that even though he constructs an author without hands anterior to the manuscript, his own persona in the printed text (where the authorial body is incarnated) is ready for hand-to-hand combat with the proponents of licensing. Describing the evolution of licensing, he states: "And thus ye have the inventors and the original of book-licensing ripped up and drawn as lineally as any pedigree" (725). Referring again to licensing: "Yet this only is what I request to gain from this reason, that it may be held a dangerous and suspicious fruit, as certainly it deserves, for the tree that bore it, until I can dissect one by one the properties it has" (725). The strategy works (through oblique reference) to reinscribe within the present, unlicensed text, the looming menace of the licensors' combative, intrusive hands. Similar oblique reference can be found in Milton's use of the anagram of license, "silence." He states, for example: "If some who but of late were little better than silenced from preaching, shall now come to silence us from reading, except what they please, it cannot be guessed what is intended by some but a second tyranny over learning" (738). To be "silenced" from reading is so peculiar a usage, that one stops for a moment. It then becomes apparent that as a reader, one bears a relationship to the author as in a printer's template, and that "silence" is more or less the reverse of "license." The continuity of control, radiating in both directions from the middle (that is, through the middleman licensor) implicates the reader in the politics of literary production. As a reader, one is at the remote end of a continuum; the licensor acts remotely, but one is nonetheless personally affected. To be silenced from reading also suggests that one's voice regarding what one has read will be suppressed, thereby constricting the free flow of opinion.

8 The Oxford English Dictionary (1989) cites Milton's use of the word "collated" separately from the word "collate," and defines it as meaning "compared" or "conferred or bestowed." Bacon uses "collate" to imply careful comparison in order to determine exact points of difference and similarity. The term was not used in connection with printing and bookbinding until the late eighteenth century, although one might argue that, as with so many words, Milton uses "collate" in a context that extends its meaning towards the modern usage. Compare, for example, Milton's use of the word "career" in connection with thinking about the profession of authorship (Sonnet 7), even though the word did not attain its modern association with professionalism until the nineteenth century.

9 Note that here, in opposition to the licensor's hand, whose hand is absent, Milton marks his own text.

10 Milton replaces prior restraint on publication with the inner restraint of each man's moral judgment. This movement inwards is very Protestant, identifying the Popish provenance of licensing. It is also a swipe at "prelatical" tendencies in the Church that would ordain truth at the expense of sectarian dispute, consistent with a Romish disposition.

11 Milton takes seriously the literature of popular protest, and demonstrates his faith in its consumers' ability to weigh its veracity. In attacking prior restraint on publication, he argues: "Nor is it to the common people less than a reproach; for if we be so jealous over them as that we dare not trust them with an English pamphlet, what do we but censure them for a giddy, vicious, and ungrounded people, in such a sick and weak estate of faith and discretion, as to be able to take nothing down but through the pipe of a licenser" (736).

12 The only significant discussion that I have found of this literature is in Michael Wilding's "Milton's Areopagitica: Liberty for the Sects," Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism 9 (1986): 7-38. Wilding states that "the liberal reputation of Areopagitica as 'the first work devoted primarily to freedom of the press' has been at the expense of its historical context.... It confronted the attempt to control the press at a time when the press was pouring out increasingly radical materials ..." (13). Nigel Smith (note 6) provides a brilliant discussion of how Milton appropriates the language of other texts in order to appeal to their constituencies. He also discusses Milton's references to trade and commerce, monopoly and copyright.

13 Milton is making an ironic pun on "engross" which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, also meant "to write in large letters ... to write in a peculiar character appropriate to legal documents." Milton's engrosser erases language, and represents a perversion of legal authority.

14 The following account of engrossing, and of other sharp economic practices is based on the classic discussion in E. Lipson, The Economic History of England, 3 vols. (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1948), vols. 2 and 3. On the engrossing of land holdings, see R. H. Tawney, The Agrarian Problem in the Sixteenth Century (London: Longman's, 1912), part 2; and The Agrarian History of England and Wales, Vol. IV 1500-1640, ed. Joan Thirsk (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1967), chapter 4, "Enclosing and Engrossing." There is also a discussion of popular attitudes towards middlemen as the cause of dearth in John Walter and Keith Wrightson, "Dearth and the Social Order in Early Modern England, Past and Present 71 (1976): 22-42, especially 30-33.

15 Lipson (note 14), 2:430.

16 Lipson, 2:430.

17 Walter and Wrightson (note 14), 31.
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