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l:libels

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Libels

blasphemous and seditious. Act 60 Geo. 3. cap. 8. — For the more effectual Prevention and Punishment of Blasphemous and Seditious Libels.

Commences by declaring that it is expedient to make more effectual provision for the punishment of blasphemous and seditious libels; and then proceeds to enact, “That from and after the passing of the Act, in every Case in which any Verdict or Judgment by default shall be had against any Person for composing, printing, or publishing any blasphemous Libel, or any seditious Libel, tending to bring into hatred or contempt the Person of His Majesty, his Heirs or Successors, or the Regent, or the Government and Constitution of the United Kingdom as by Law established, or either House of Parliament, or to excite His Majesty's Subjects to attempt the Alteration of any Matter in Church or State as by Law established, otherwise than by lawful Means, it shall be lawful for the Judge, or the Court before whom or in which such Verdict shall have been given, or the Court in which such Judgment by default shall be had, to make an Order for the Seizure and carrying away and detaining in safe Custody, in such Manner as shall be directed in such Order, all Copies of the Libel which shall be in the Possession of the Person against whom such Verdict or Judgment shall have been had, or in the Possession of any other Person named in the Order for his Use; Evidence upon Oath having been previously given to the Satisfaction of such Court or Judge, that a Copy or Copies of the said Libel is or are in the Possession of such other Person for the Use of the Person against whom such Verdict or Judgment shall have been had as aforesaid; and in every such Case it shall be lawful for any Justice of the Peace, or for any Constable or other Peace-officer acting under any such Order, or for any Person or Persons acting with or in aid of any such Justice of the Peace, Constable, or other Peace-officer, to search for any Copies of such Libel in any House, Building, or other Place whatsoever belonging to the Person against whom any such Verdict or Judgment shall have been had, or to any other Person so named, in whose Possession any Copies of any such Libel, belonging to the Person against whom any such Verdict or Judgment shall have been had, shall be; and in case Admission shall be refused or not obtained within a reasonable Time after it shall have been first demanded, to enter by force by Day into any such House, Building, or Place whatsoever, and to carry away all Copies of the Libel there found, and to detain the same in safe Custody until the same shall be restored under the Provisions of this Act, or disposed of according to any further Order made in relation thereto.

s. 2. “That if in any such Case as aforesaid Judgment shall be arrested, or if, after Judgment shall have been entered, the same shall be reversed upon any Writ of Error, all Copies so seized shall be forthwith returned to the Person or Persons from whom the same shall have been so taken as aforesaid, free of all Charge and Expence, and without the Payment of any Fees whatever; and in every Case in which final Judgment shall be entered upon the Verdict so found against the Person or Persons charged with having composed, printed, or published such Libel, then all Copies so seized shall be disposed of as the Court in which such Judgment shall be given shall order and direct.

s. 3. “Provided that in Scotland, in every Case in which any Person or Persons shall be found Guilty before the Court of Justiciary, of composing, printing, or publishing any blasphemous or seditious Libel, or where Sentence of Fugitation shall have been pronounced against any Person or Persons, in consequence of their failing to appear to answer to any Indictment charging them with having composed, printed, or published any such Libel, then and in either of such Cases, it shall and may be lawful for the said Court to make an Order for the Seizure, carrying away, and detaining in safe Custody, all Copies of the Libel in the Possession of any such Person or Persons, or in the Possession of any other Person or Persons named in such Order, for his or their Use, Evidence upon Oath having been previously given to the Satisfaction of such Court or Judge, that a Copy or Copies of the said Libel is or are in the Possession of such other Person for the Use of the Person against whom such Verdict or Judgment shall have been had as aforesaid; and every such Order so made shall and may be carried into effect, in such and the same Manner as any Order made by the Court of Justiciary, or any Circuit Court of Justiciary, may be carried into effect according to the Law and Practice of Scotland: Provided always, that in the Event of any Person or Persons being reponed against any such Sentence of Fugitation, and being thereafter acquitted, all Copies so seized shall be forthwith returned to the Person or Persons from whom the same shall have been so taken as aforesaid; and in all other Cases, the Copies so seized shall be disposed of in such Manner as the said Court may direct.

s. 4. “That if any Person shall be legally convicted of having, after the passing of this Act, composed, printed, or published any blasphemous Libel, or any such seditious Libel as aforesaid, and shall, after being so convicted, offend a second Time, and be thereof legally convicted before any Commission of Oyer and Terminer or Gaol Delivery, or in His Majesty's Court of King's-bench, such Person may, on such second Conviction, be adjudged, at the Discretion of the Court, either to suffer such Punishment as may now by Law be inflicted in Cases of high Misdemeanors, or to be banished from the United Kingdom, and all other Parts of His Majesty's Dominions, for such Term of Years as the Court in which such Conviction shall take place shall order.

s. 5. “That in case any Person so sentenced and ordered to be banished as aforesaid, shall not depart from this United Kingdom within Thirty Days after the pronouncing of such Sentence and Order as aforesaid, for the Purpose of going into such Banishment as aforesaid, it shall and may be lawful to and for His Majesty to convey such Person to such Parts out of the Dominions of His said Majesty, as His Majesty by and with the Advice of his Privy Council shall direct.

s. 6. “That if any Offender, who shall be so ordered by any such Court as aforesaid to be banished in manner aforesaid shall, after the End of Forty Days from the Time such Sentence and Order hath been pronounced, be at large within any Part of the United Kingdom, or any other Part of His Majesty's Dominions, without some lawful Cause, before the Expiration of the Term for which such Offender shall have been so ordered to be banished as aforesaid, every such Offender being so at large as aforesaid, being thereof lawfully convicted, shall be transported to such Place as shall be appointed by His Majesty for any Term not exceeding Fourteen Years; and such Offender may be tried, either before any Justices of Assize, Oyer and Terminer, Great Sessions, or Gaol Delivery, for the County, City, Liberty, Borough, or Place where such Offender shall be apprehended and taken, or where he or she was sentenced to Banishment; and the Clerk of Assize, Clerk of the Peace, or other Clerk or Officer of the Court having the Custody of the Records where such Order of Banishment shall have been made, shall, when thereunto required on His Majesty's Behalf, make out and give a Certificate in Writing, signed by him, containing the Effect and Substance only (omitting the formal Part) of every Indictment and Conviction of such Offender, and of the Order for his or her Banishment, to the Justices of Assize, Oyer and Terminer, Great Sessions, or Gaol Delivery, where such Offender shall be indicted, for which Certificate Six Shillings and Eight Pence, and no more, shall be paid, and which Certificate shall be sufficient Proof of the Conviction and Order for Banishment of any such Offender.”

The remaining clauses relate to the mode of proceeding in case of former conviction, limitation of actions, &c.

11 G. 4. & 1 W. 4. c. 73. “An act to repeal so much of an Act of the Sixtieth Year of His late Majesty King George the Third, for the more effectual Prevention and Punishment of blasphemous and seditious Libels, as relates to the Sentence of Banishment for the Second Offence; and to provide some further Remedy against the Abuse of publishing Libels.

“Whereas by an Act passed in the Sixtieth Year of the Reign of His late Majesty King George the Third, intituled An Act for the more effectual Prevention and Punishment of blasphemous and seditious Libels, it was amongst other things enacted, that if any Person should, after the passing of that Act, be legally convicted of having composed, printed, or published any blasphemous Libel or any such seditious Libel as in the said Act is before mentioned, and should after being so convicted offend a second Time, and be thereof legally convicted before any Commission of Oyer and Terminer, or Gaol Delivery, or in His Majesty's Court of King's Bench, such Person might on such second Conviction be adjudged, at the Discretion of the Court, either to suffer such Punishment as might by Law be inflicted in Cases of high Misdemeanour, or to be banished from the United Kingdom and all other Parts of His Majesty's Dominions for such Term of Years as the Court in which such Conviction should take place should order; And whereas it is expedient to repeal so much of the said Act as relates to the Sentence of Banishment for the Second Offence; Be it therefore enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same. That so much and such Parts of the said Act as relate to the Sentence of Banishment for the Second Offence be and the same is hereby wholly repealed.”

It hath been ruled that the finding a libel on a bookseller's shelf is a publication of it by the bookseller; and that it is no excuse to say that the servant took it into the shop without the master's knowledge; for the law presumes the master to be acquainted with what the servant does. Rex v. Dodd, 1 Sess. Cos. 33 Burn's Justice of the Peace, vol. 3, p. 292, Art. Libel See Publications, Periodical.

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