Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/195

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Our Last Book-Fires.

vivid picture of those "good old" or turbulent days; for the mob, encouraged by well-dressed people from the shops and balconies, who cried out, "Well done, boys! bravely done, boys!" set up such a hissing, that the sheriffs horses were frightened, and brave Alderman Hurley with difficulty reached the place where the paper was to be burnt. The mob seized what they could of the paper from the burning torch of the executioner, and finally thrashed the officials from the field. Practically, too, they had thrashed the custom out of existence, for there were very few such burnings afterwards.

Wilkes was then expelled from the House of Commons; and the same House, becoming suddenly as tender of its privileges as it had previously been indifferent to them, passed a resolution, to which the Attorney-General, Sir Fletcher Norton, was said to have declared that he would pay no more regard than "to the oaths of so many drunken porters in Covent Garden," to the effect that a general warrant for apprehending and seizing the authors, printers, and publishers of a seditious and treasonable libel was not warranted by law. Such was the vaunted wisdom of our ancestors, thatj having first decided that there could