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Friday, April 29, 2016

Champion of the Discontented

       "But an addressing House of Commons, and a petitioning nation;  an House of Commons full of confidence, when the nation is plunged in despair;  in the utmost harmony with Ministers, whom the people regard with the utmost abhorrence;  who vote thanks, when the public opinion calls upon them for impeachments;  who are eager to grant, when the general voice demands account;  who, in all disputes between the people and Administration, presume against the people;  who punish their disorders, but refuse even to inquire into the provocations to them;  this is an unnatural, a monstrous state of things in this constitution. . . .I will not believe, what no other man living believes, that Mr. Wilkes was punished for the indecency of his publications, or the impiety of his ransacked closet.  If he had fallen in a common slaughter of libellers and blasphemers, I could well believe that nothing more was meant than was pretended.  But when I see, that, for years together, full as impious, and perhaps more dangerous writings to religion, and virtue, and order, have not been punished, nor their authors discountenanced;  that the most audacious libels on Royal Majesty have passed without notice;  that the most treasonable invectives against the laws, liberties, and constitution of the country, have not met with the slightest animadversion;  I must consider this as a shocking and shameless pretence.  Never did an envenomed scurrility against everything sacred and civil, public and private, rage through the kingdom with such a furious and unbridled licence.  All this while the peace of the nation must be shaken, to ruin one libeller, and to tear from the populace a single favourite."  Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, pgs. 53, 59-60

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