Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/194

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Books Condemned to be Burnt.

of recent times how ready the House of Commons is to throw Parliamentary or popular privileges to the winds whenever they stand in the way of political resentment, and so it was in our fathers' times. For, in spite of a vigorous speech from Pitt against a surrender of privilege which placed Parliament entirely at the mercy of the Crown, the Commons voted, by 258 to 133, that such privilege afforded no protection against the publication of seditious libels. The House of Lords, of course, concurred, but not without a protest from the dissentient minority, headed by Lord Temple, which has the true ring of political wisdom; and, like so many similar protests, is so instinct with zeal for public liberty as to atone in some measure for the fundamental injustice of the existence of an hereditary chamber. They held it "highly unbecoming the dignity, gravity, and wisdom of the House of Peers, as well as of their justice, thus judicially to explain away and diminish the privileges of their persons," etc.

A few days later (December 1st) a second conference between the two Houses condemned No. 45 to be burnt at the Royal Exchange by the common hangman. And so it was on the 3rd, but not without a riot, which conveys a