Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/196

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Books Condemned to be Burnt.

be no breach of privilege to protect a seditious libel, they then asserted the illegality of the very proceedings they had already justified! Truly they are not altogether in the wrong who deem that the chief glory of our Constitution lies in its singular elasticity.

All the numbers of the North Briton, especially No. 45, have high interest as political and literary curiosities. Comparing even now the King's speech on April 19th, 1763, at the close of the Seven Years' War, with the passage in No. 45 which contained the sting of the whole, one feels that Walpole hardly exaggerated when he said that Wilkes had given "a flat lie -to the King himself." Perhaps so; but are royal speeches as a rule conspicuous for their truth? The King had said: "My expectations have been fully answered by the happy effects which the several allies of my crown have derived from this salutary measure. The powers at war with my good brother the King of Prussia have been induced to agree to such terms of accommodation as that great prince has approved; and the success which has attended my negotiation has necessarily and immediately diffused the blessings of peace through every part of Europe." Wilkes's comment was as