"The time, it is to be hoped, is gone by when any defence would be necessary of the “liberty of the press” as one of the securities against corrupt or tyrannical government." (source: On Liberty By John Stuart Mill)

I have three questions to ask.

(1) For the phrase of the “liberty of the press”, is it related to the subject of the clause any defence as follows? : the defence of the “liberty of the press”

(2) I think "the time is gone by" means it is too late or they missed the opportunity. If so, how should I understand the phrase "it is to be hoped"? Why anyone would want being too late?

(3) What does securities mean here?

Could you help me clarify it? Thank you always.

  • There formerly some use of "be" as the auxiliary in perfect constructions with certain verbs. Gladstone announced his switch to the Liberal Party with "I am come among you unmuzzled," which he was quoting from some previous time. Mill just means "the time has gone by." Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 21:32

1 Answer 1

  1. Yes, "the defence of the liberty of the press" is the correct interpretation.

  2. It means neither in this context - instead it refers to "time having gone by" as the society in general moving on from the times when defence of the press was necessary.

  3. Securities means the same as "safeguards" - the precautions necessary to prevent the corrupt and tyrannical government.

So the overall sentence would mean, more or less:

I hope that we're no longer living in the times in which we'd need to defend the liberty of the press being necessary to prevent a corrupt or tyrannical government.

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