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these contempts, by fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the king's courts of justice P.

3. CONTEMPTS and mifprifions against the king's person and government, may be by speaking or writing against them, curfing or wishing him ill, giving out fcandalous ftories concerning him, or doing any thing that may tend to leffen him in the esteem of his fubjects, may weaken his government, or may raise jealoufies between him and his people. It has been alfo held an offence of this fpecies to drink to the pious memory of a traitor; or for a clergyman to abfolve perfons at the gallows, who there perfift in the treafons for which they die: thefe being acts which impliedly encourage rebellion. And for this species of contempt a man may not only be fined and imprisoned, but fuffer the pillory or other infamous corporal punishment: in like manner as, in the antient German empire, fuch perfons as endeavoured to fow fedition, and disturb the public tranquillity; were condemned to become the objects of public notoriety and derifion, by carrying a dog upon their shoulders from one great town to another. The emperors Otho I. and Frederic Barbarossa inflicted this punishment on noblemen of the highest rank'.

4. CONTEMPTS against the king's title, not amounting to treafon or praemunire, are the denial of his right to the crown in common and unadvised difcourfe; for, if it be by advifedly fpeaking, we have feen that it amounts to a praemunire. This heedlefs fpecies of contempt is however punished by our law with fine and imprifonment. Likewife if any perfon fhall in any wife hold, affirm, or maintain, that the common laws of this realm, not altered by parliament, ought not to direct the right of the crown of England; this is a mifdemefnor, by statute 13 Eliz. c. 1. and punishable with forfeiture of goods and chattels. A contempt may also arise from refufing or neglecting to. take the oaths, appointed by statute for the better fecuring the

PI Hawk. P. C. 60.

4 Ibid.

· Mod. Un. Hift. xxix. 28. 119.
• Sec pag. 91.

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government; and yet acting in a public office, place of truft, or other capacity, for which the faid oaths are required to be taken; viz. those of allegiance, supremacy, and abjuration : which must be taken within fix calendar months after admiffion. The penalties for this contempt, inflicted by ftatute 1 Geo. I. ft. 2. c.13. are very little, if any thing, short of those of a praemunire: being an incapacity to hold the faid offices, or any other; to prosecute any fuit; to be guardian or executor; to take any legacy or deed of gift; and to vote at any election for members of parliament: and after conviction the offender fhall alfo forfeit 500l. to him or them that will fue for the fame. Members on the foundation of any college in the two univerfities, who by this ftatute are bound to take the oaths, muft also register a certificate thereof in the college register, within one month after; otherwise, if the electors do not remove him, and elect another within twelve months, or after, the king may nominate a perfon, to fucceed him by his great feal or fign manual. Befides thus taking the oaths for offices, any two juftices of the peace may by the fame ftatute fummon, and tender the oaths to, any person whom they shall suspect to be difaffected; and every perfon refusing the fame, who is properly called a non-juror, shall be adjudged a popish recufant convict, and subjected to the fame penalties that were mentioned in a former chapter; which in the end may amount to the alternative of abjuring the realm, or fuffering death as a felon.

5. CONTEMPTS against the king's palaces or courts of juftice have always been looked upon as high misprisions and by the antient law, before the conqueft, fighting in the king's palace, or before the king's judges, was punished with death '. So too, in the old Gothic conftitution, there were many places privileged by law, quibus major reverentia et fecuritas debetur, ut templa et judicia, quae fancta habebantur, --- arces et aula regis, denique locus quilibet praefente aut adventante rege". And at Stiernh. de jure Goth. 1. 3. c. 3.

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* See pag. 55.

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3 Inft. 140. LL. Alured. cap. 7. & 34.


prefent, with us, by the ftatute 33 Hen. VIII. c. 12. malicious ftriking in the king's palace, wherein his royal perfon refides, whereby blood is drawn, is punishable by perpetual imprisonment, and fine at the king's pleasure; and alfo with lofs of the offender's right hand, the folemn execution of which fentence is prescribed in the statute at length.

BUT ftriking in the king's fuperior courts of justice, in Westminster-hall, or at the affifes, is made ftill more penal than even in the king's palace. The reafon feems to be, that thofe courts being antiently held in the king's palace, and before the king himself, striking there included the former contempt against the king's palace, and fomething more; viz. the disturbance of public juftice. For this reason, by the antient common law before the conqueft ", ftriking in the king's courts of justice, or drawing a sword therein, was a capital felony: and our modern law retains fo much of the antient severity, as only to exchange the loss of life for the loss of the offending limb. Therefore a ftroke or a blow in fuch court of justice, whether blood be drawn or not, or even affaulting a judge, fitting in the court, by drawing a weapon, without any blow ftruck, is punishable with the lofs of the right hand, imprisonment for life, and forfeiture of goods and chattels, and of the profits of his lands during life *. A rescue alfo of a prisoner from any of the faid courts, without ftriking a blow, is punished with perpetual imprisonment, and forfeiture of goods, and of the profits of lands during life': being looked upon as an offence of the fame nature with the last ; but only, as no blow is actually given, the amputation of the hand is excused. For the like reason an affray, or riot, near the faid courts, but out of their actual view, is punished only with fine and imprisonment 2.

* LL. Inae. c. 6. LL. Canut. c. 56. LL. Alured. c. 7.

* Staundf. P. C. 38. 3 Inft. 140, 141.

11 Hawk. P. C. 57.

z Cro. Car. 373.


NOT only fuch as are guilty of an actual violence, but of threatening or reproachful words to any judge fitting in the courts, are guilty of a high mifprifion, and have been punished with large fines, imprisonment, and corporal punishment'. And, even in the inferior courts of the king, an affray, or contemptuous behaviour, is punishable with a fine by the judges there fitting; as by the fteward in a court-leet, or the like 6.

LIKEWISE all fuch, as are guilty of any injurious treatment to those who are immediately under the protection of a court of juftice, are punishable by fine and imprisonment: as if a man affaults or threatens his adversary for fuing him, a counsellor or attorney for being employed against him, a juror for his verdict, or a gaoler or other ministerial officer for keeping him in cuftody, and properly executing his duty: which offences, when they proceeded farther than bare threats, were punished in the Gothic conftitutions with exile and forfeiture of goods.

LASTLY, to endeavour to diffuade a witness from giving evidence; to disclose an examination before the privy council; or, to advise a prisoner to ftand mute; (all of which are impediments of juftice) are high mifprifions, and contempts of the king's courts, and punishable by fine and imprisonment. And antiently it was held, that if one of the grand jury disclosed to any perfon indicted the evidence that appeared against him, he was thereby made acceffory to the offence, if felony; and in treafon a principal. And at this day it is agreed, that he is guilty of a high mifprifion, and liable to be fined and imprisoned .

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HE order of our diftribution will next lead us to take into confideration fuch crimes and mifdemefnors as moré especially affect the common-wealth, or public polity of the kingdom which however, as well as thofe which are peculiarly pointed against the lives and fecurity of private fubjects, are alfo offences against the king, as the pater-familias of the nation; to whom it appertains by his regal office to protect the community, and each individual therein, from every degree of injurious violence, by executing those laws, which the people themselves in conjunction with him have enacted; or at least have confented to, by an agreement either exprefly made in the perfons of their representatives, or by a tacit and implied confent prefumed and proved by immemorial ufage.

THE fpecies of crimes, which we have now before us, is fubdivided into fuch a number of inferior and fubordinate claffes, that it would much exceed the bounds of an elementary treatise, and be infupportably tedious to the reader, were I to examine them all minutely, or with any degree of critical accuracy. I fhall therefore confine myfelf principally to general definitions or defcriptions of this great variety of offences, and to the punishments inflicted by law for each particular offence; with now and then a few incidental obfervations: referring the ftudent for


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