Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
ON THE FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
- HILE free from Force the Press remains,
- Virtue and Freedom chear our Plains,
- And Learning Largesses bestows,
- And keeps unlicens’d open House.
- We to the Nation’s publick Mart
- Our Works of Wit, and Schemes of Art,
- And philosophic Goods, this Way,
- Like Water carriage, cheap convey.
- This Tree which Knowledge so affords,
- Inquisitors with flaming swords
- From Lay-Approach with Zeal defend,
- Lest their own Paradise should end.
- The Press from her fecundous Womb
- Brought forth the Arts of Greece and Rome;
- Her offspring, skill’d in Logic War,
- Truth’s Banner wav’d in open Air;
- The Monster Superstition fled,
- And hid in Shades in Gorgon Head;
- And awless Pow’r, the long kept Field,
- By Reason quell’d, was forc’d to yield.
- This Nurse of Arts, and Freedom’s Fence,
- To chain, is Treason against Sense:
- And Liberty, thy thousand Tongues
- None silence who design no Wrongs;
- For those who use the Gag’s Restraint,
- First Rob, before they stop Complaint.
“On the Freedom of the Press” is reprinted from Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1757.