Digby, now gloriously though only partially unmasked as a female blogger, teed off on this July 4th-with-an-18th-century-tie-in, so I didn’t have to. Go read.
In the meantime, though, you might as well look at Wilkes’s response to Johnson’s arguments in the False Alarm, which are looking mighty familiar . . .
At length, however, we are gratified, at once, with your idea of the point to be contested, with your decision on the subject, and with the principle on which found your determination, THE GREAT AND PREGNANT PRINCIPLE OF POLITICAL NECESSITY.
If you are maintaining pretensions arising from a necessity that supercedes law; a necessity of which, the persons who are to avail themselves of the plea, are to be the sole judges; a necessity that is founded only in the emergencies of a particular crisis, and that implies a momentary annihilation of an established constitution—your principle is indeed pregnant—with anarchy or servitude. But if this be the necessity on which you would establish the right of the House of Commons to disqualify by a vote, point out us the present emergence; –shew us that the state would be overturned unless the choice of the Freeholders of Middlesex were counteracted. The idea is too gross to be dwelt upon (Letter to Samuel Johnson (1770), 9-11.
Happy 4th, everyone. [Note to B and kids; miss you already]