John MiltonJohn Milton, (1608-1674) English Poet

John Milton Quote

“Here the great art lies, to discern in what the law is to bid restraint and punishment, and in what things persuasion only is to work.”

John MiltonJohn Milton
~ John Milton

AREOPAGITICA; A Speech of Mr. John Milton For the Liberty of Unlicens'd Printing, To the Parliament of ENGLAND,1644

Ratings and Comments

TerryBerg, Occidental, CA

Uh, the actual quote is: ..., but here the great art lies to discern in what the law is to BID (my caps) restraint and punishment, and in what things persuasion only is to work.

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  • Reply
    KS.    8/29/05

    This "great art" that John Milton speaks of (it seems to me) is an art that needs to be interpreted in a justly humane fashion.I thought of how this quote applies to Supreme Court Justices and how it applies to the police in the apprehension and detention of criminal suspects.I sense the need for American dialogue in these areas as this quote pertains to the aforementioned Nouns.

    Joe, Rochester, MI

    Congress has created too many laws, to the extent that we are no longer free. The courts no longer follow the law, rather what they feel is best ... but for whom? The Second Amendment states the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, yet there are laws which require permits to purchase, and more. What part of shall not be infringed to they NOT understand?

    cal, lewisville, tx

    Joe. it's just like the first ammendent on freedom of religion: however, the government gets to decide "what is a religion?"

    Mike, Norwalk

    The law, though an abstract to corporeal man, is an absolute. Fiscal laws seldom harmonize with political aspirations. Alien potentates definitions (codes, rules, statutes, etc.) seldom match man's inalienable right(s) to life, liberty, property, self protection, expression, or religion. It is a great art, blended with science to discover what the law is. It is the application thereof, that is pure art at restraining, punishing, and in what things persuasion only is to work. The original constitution, know to by contemporary man, has been the greatest outline to which such art may be discovered.

    Mike, Norwalk
    • Reply
    Mike, Norwalk Mike, Norwalk 6/20/24

    Nature's law restrains nothing, it only defines. Only in man's thought, argument or reasoning can a restraint be associated to that which is called law. By example; a man may reason that it is a restraint to not be able to walk from mountain top to mountain top in a straight line through the air (gravity being the restraint). In fact, the law of gravity is known and consistent, neither a restraint or incitement / advantage  it just "is". Only through a despot's ideology and tyrannical enforcements can a restraint be considered legal.

    Waffler, Smith

    A good and thoght provoking quote. Thanks editor.

    Elisabeth, Astoria, NY

    That kind of discernment is definitely the gist of justice; this country being so far the only one in this whole wide world indeed capable of reaching it at both the lawmakers' and people's ends, as long as the second Amendment is respected.

    Ron w13, Or

    Careless seems the Great Avenger ; history's page but record One death-grapple in the darkness ' twist old systems and the word ; Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,- Yet the scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown, Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.
    James Russell Lowell

    E Archer, NYC

    A return to the Common Law would be a great stride towards justice, both civil and social. Commercial/Admiralty law, however, attempts to compel obedience to rules and statutes for which there is no victim, other than disobeying a dictate from the State. The penalties are so high (take the drug war for example) that 'offenders' cannot even mount a defense. The full weight of the State is thrown at millions of individuals whose only 'crime' is disobeying rules for which the legislatures are not even Consitutionally authorized to make or enforce. The checks and balances are way out of whack, and trusting the State to govern itself has resulted in reams and reams of so-called 'laws' every year until a free people have been turned into serfs upon their own land.

    Fredrick William Sillik, Anytown

    More correctly Mr Milton followers, the lesser local, narrow minded, artist relies on primarily disturbance and punishment to damage, while the finely honed, open minded, refined universal renouned artist uses primarily reasonable persuasion to create. 


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