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Address of loth houses of parlia- parliament, that it is no wonder to

ment to his majesty, on occasion see that the same audacious hand, of the publication of the North which hath dared thus grossly to Briton, No. 45, presented on affront your majesty, should, at the Monday the 5th of November, same time, violate the other facred 1763, with his majesty's most regards prescribed by the laws and gracious answer.

conftitution of this country, afper

sing and calumniating every branch Moft gracious fovereign, of the legislature, and endeavour

E your majesty's most duti- ing to excite, amongst all ranks of

ful and faithful subjects, your majesty's subjects, such a spithe lords fpiritual and temporal, rit of difcord and disobedience, as and commons, in parliament assem- could end in nothing but the total bled, having taken into our con

subversion of all lawful governfideration a late false, scandalous, ment. and feditious libel, intituled, The Permit us also to express to your North Briton, No. 45, think it our majesty our firm persuasion and just indispensable duty to express our confidence, that this most extravasurprize and indignation at finding, gant and outrageous attempt will that neither the public nor private prove as impotent as it is wicked; virtues which so eminently intitle that, instead of answering those your majesty to the highest venera- purposes for which it appears to tion, as well as to the most grateful have been calculated, it will, on and loyal attachment of all your the contrary, serve to excite in subjects, nor the gracious expres- your faithful subjects the abhorSons of your tender care and af- rence of such dangerous practices, fection for your people, in your to unite them more firmly in their majesty's speech from the throne at zealous attachment to your mathe end of the last fesfion of parlia- jesty's person and government, and ment, which has been thus infa- in a due reverence for the authority mously traduced, should have been of the legislature ; and lastly, that sufficient to fecure your majesty in consequence of your majesty's from fo in slent and unexampled directions to prosecute the authors an indignity

of this infamous libel, it will Such, in zed, has been your ma- bring such punishment upon those jesty's unitorm adherence to the who shall be found guilty of lo principles of our happy constitu- atrocious a crime, as the laws of tion, and such the uninterrupted their country have prescribed, and harmony and good correspondence as the public justice and safety shall between your majesty and your demand.

lution ;


His majesty's most gracious an- with the commons in the said resos

swer. My lords and gentlemen, The same was objected to. Af. “ The very affectionate zeal, ter long debate thereupon, which you express for the vindi- The question was put, Whether cation of my honour, and your de to agree with the commons in the clared resolution to support the au- faid resolution ? thority of parliament, cannot fail It was refolved in the affirma. of being extremely grateful to me. It has been hitherto, and it always Disfentient, shall be, my care to regulate my Because we cannot hear without conduct according to the principles the utmost concern and astonishof the constitution. I will not, ment, a doctrine advanced now, therefore, be wanting in carrying for the first time in this house, the laws into execution, against all which we apprehend to be new, who shall presume to violate any dangerous, and unwarrantable, viz. of those principles; and in this That the personal privilege of resolution I doubt not of receiving both houses of parliament has the hearty concurrence and support never held, and ought not to hold, both of my parliament and my in the case of any criminal profepeople.”

cution whatsoever ; by which, all the records of parliament, all history, all the authorities of the

gravest and soberest judges, are The lords protest relating to the entirely rescinded ; and the fun

privilege of parliament, in the damental principles of the confticuse of writing and publishing tution, with regard to the indeseditious libels.

pendence of parliament, torn up

and buried under the ruins of our Die Martis, 29 Novembris, 1763. most established rights. THE order of the day for re- We are at a loss to conceive,

suming the adjourned confi- with what view such a facrifice deration of the report of the con- should be proposed, unless to amference with the commons on Fri- plify, in effect, the jurisdiction of day last being read;

the inferior, by annihilating the The third resolution of the com- ancient immunities of this superior mons was read, as follows :

court. “ Resolved by the commons in The very question itself, pro

parliament assembled, posed to us from the commons, That privilege of parliament and now agreed to by the lords, does not extend to the case of writfrom the letter and spirit of it, ing and publishing seditious libels, contradicts this assertion ; for, nor ought to be allowed to obstruct whilft it only narrows privilege in the ordinary course of the laws, in criminal matters, it establishes the the speedy and effectual prosecu- principle. The law of privilege, tion of so heinous and dangerous an touching imprisonment of the peroffence.”

fons of lords of parliament, as And it being moved to agree ftated by the two ftanding orders,



declares generally, that no lord the necessity lafts, a lord of parof parliament, fitting the parlia- liament, would enjoy a mightier ment, or within the usual times prerogative than the crown itself of privilege of parliament, is is entitled to. Lastly, they both to be imprisoned or restrained, leave the prosecution of all misdewithout sentence or order of the meanours still under privilege, and house, unless it be for treason or do not derogate from that great felony, or for refusing to give se- fundamental, that none shall be arcurity for the peace, and refusal to rested in the course of profecution pay obedience to a writ of habeas for any crime under treason and fecorpus.

lony. The first of these orders was These two orders comprise the made after long confideration, up- whole law of privilege, and are on a dispute with the king, when both of them standing orders, and the precedents of both houses had consequently the fixed laws of the been fully inspected, commented house, by which we are all bound upon, reported, and entered in until they are duly repealed. the journals, and after the king's The resolution of the other council had been heard. It was house, now agreed to, is a direct made in sober times, and by a contradiction to the rule of parliahouse of peers, not only loyal, but mentary privilege, laid down in devoted to the crown ; and it was the aforesaid ftanding orders, both made by the unanimous consent in letter and spirit. Before the of all, not one dissenting. These reasons are stated, it will be proper circumstances of folemnity, deli- to premise two observations. beration, and unanimity, are so First, that in all cases where singular and extraordinary, that security of the peace may be rethe like are scarce to be found in quired, the lord cannot be comany instance


the records of mitted till that security is refused, parliament,

and consequently the magistrate When the two cases of surety will be guilty of a breach of for the peace, and habeas corpus, privilege if he commits the ofcome to be well considered, it will fender without demanding that se. be found that they both breathe curity. the same spirit, and grow out of Secondly, although the securithe same principle.

rity should be refused, yet, if the The offences that call for sure- party is committed generally, the ty and habeas corpus, are both magiftrate is guilty of a breach of cases of present continuing vio- privilege, because the party relence, the proceedings in both tufing ought only to be committed have the same end, viz. to reprefs till he has found fureties ; wherea the force, and to disarm the of- as, by general commitment, he is fender. The proceeding stops in held fast, even though he should both when that end is attained ; give sureties; and can only be difthe offence is not prosecuted or charged by giving bail for his appunished in either ; the necessity pearance. is equal in both, and, if privilege This being premised, the first was allowed in either, so long as objection is to the generality of


this resolution, which, as it is the contrary, it is always describpenned, denies the privilege to ed as an act tending to excite, the supposed libeller, not only provoke, or produce, breaches of where he refuses to give fureties, the peace ; and although a fecrebut likewise throughout the whole tary of state may be pleased to add prosecution, from the beginning the inflaming epithets of treasonto the end ; fo that, although he able, traitorous, or feditious, to a should submit to be bound, he particular paper, yet no words are may, notwithstanding, be after- strong enough to alter the nature of wards arrested, tried, convicted, things. To say then, that a libel, and punished, fitting the parlia- possibly productive of such a conment, and without leave of the fequence, is the very consequence house, wherein the law of privi- fo produced, is, in other words, to lege is fundamentally misunder- declare, that the cause and the efstood, by which no commitment fect are the same thing. whatsoever is tolerated, but that Secondly, but if a libel could only which is made upon the re- possibly, by any abuse of language, fusal of the fureties, or in the other or has any where been called, inexcepted cases of treason or felony, advertently, a breach of the peace, and the habeas corpus.

there is not the least colour to say, If privilege will not hold that the libeller can be bound to throughout in the case of a fedi- give sureties for the peace, for the tious libel, it must be because that following reasons : offence is such a breach of the Because none can be so bound peace, for which fureties may be unless he be taken in the actual demanded ; and if it be so, it will commitment of a breach of the readily be admitted, that the cafe peace; striking, or putting some comes within the exception, “Pro- one or more of his majesty's subvided always, that fureties have jects in fear : been refused, and that the party is Because there is no authority, committed only till he shall give or even ambiguous hint, in any fureties.”

law-book, that he may be fa But first, this offence is not a bound : breach of the peace ; it does not Because no libeller, in fact, was fall within any definition of a ever so bound : breach of the peace, given by any Because no crown lawyer, in the of the good writers upon that sub- most despotic times, ever insisted ject, all which breaches, from he should be so bound, even in menace to actual wounding, either days when the press swarmed with alone or with a multitude, are de- the most envenomed and virulent scribed to be acts of violence libels, and when the prosecutions against the persons, goods, or pof- raged with such uncommon fury fefsions, putting the subject in fear against this species of offenders ; by blows, threats, or gestures. when the law of libels was ranNor is this case of the libeller ever facked every térm : when loss of enumerated in any of these writers ears, perpetual imprisonment, baamong the breaches of peace ; on nishment, and fines of ten and


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twenty thousand pounds, were the impression ; nay, it is not only a common judgnients in the star- new law, narrowing the known chamber, and when the crown had and ancient rule, but it is like. assumed an uncontrollable autho- wise a law ex post facto pendente rity over the press.

lite, et ex parte, 'now first declared Thirdly, this resolution does not to meet with the circumstances of only infringe the privilege of par- a particular case; and it must be liament, but points to the restraint further considered, that this house of the personal liberty of every is thus called upon to give a fanccommon subject in these realms, tion to the determinations of the seeing that it does, in effect, af- other, who have not condescendfirm, that all men, without ex-ed to confer with us upon this ception, may be bound to the point till they had prejudged it peace for this offence.

themselves. By this doctrine, every man's li. This method of relaxing the berty, privileged, as well as un- rule of privilege, case by cafe, privileged, is surrendered into the is pregnant with this farther inhands of a secretary of state ; he is convenience, that it renders the by this means impowered, in the rule precarious and uncertain. first instance, to pronounce the pa- Who can foretel where the house per to be a seditious libel, a mat- will stop, when they have, by one ter of such difficulty, that some infringement of their own standing have pretended, it is too high to orders, made a precedent, wherebe intrusted to a special jury of the on future infringements may, with first rank and condition; he is equal reason, be founded? How to understand, and decide by him- ball the subject be able to profelf, the meaning of every inuen- ceed with safety in this perilous do; he is to determine the tenden- business? How can the judges de cy thereof, and brand it with his cide on these or the like questions, own epithets; he is to adjudge the if privilege is no longer to be found party guilty, and make him au- in records and journals, and standthor or publisher as he sees good ; ing orders ? Upon any occasion and lastly, he is to give sentence privilege may be enlarged, and no by committing the party. All court will venture for the future, these authorities are given to one without trembling, either to recogsingle magistrate, unaffifted by nize or to deny it. Council, evidence, or jury, in å We manifestly see this effect of case where the law says, no excluding, by a general resolution, action will lie against him be- one bailable offence from privilege cause he acts in the capacity of to-day, that it will be a precedent a judge.

for doing so by another, upon fome From what has been observed, future occasion, till, instead of priit

appears to us, that the excep- vilege holding in every case not tion of a seditious libel from privi- excepted, it will, at last, come to lege is neither founded on usage hold" in none but such as are exor written precedents, and there- pressly saved. fore this resolution is of the first When the case of the haleas


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