AN INFRINGEMENT OF CIVIC LIBERTIES OR A NECESSITY IN COMPLEX TIMES?

The history of two acts: entitled, an Act for the safety and preservation of His Majesty’s person and government against treasonable and seditious practices and attempts, and, an Act for the more effectually preventing seditious meetings and assemblies; including the proceedings of the British parliament, and of the various popular meetings, societies, and clubs, throughout the kingdom; ....

London, G.G. and J. Robinson, 1796.

8vo, [1] blank, pp. xlviii, 828, [1] blank; a very good copy, uncut and partly unopened in the original blue boards, slightly worn at extremities, head of tan paper spine chipped, joints cracked but holding, light water stain at the head of the central pages, occasional spotting but a good copy.

£750

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The history of two acts: entitled, an Act for the safety and preservation of His Majesty’s person and government against treasonable and seditious practices and attempts, and, an Act for the more effectually preventing seditious meetings and assemblies; including the proceedings of the British parliament, and of the various popular meetings, societies, and clubs, throughout the kingdom; ....

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First edition of this account of the Pitt and Grenville Acts, introduced following the stoning of King George III’s carriage on his way to the State opening of Parliament in 1795.

The ‘Treasonable and Seditious Practices Act’ stated that those who ‘caused, imagine, invent, devise or intend death or destruction, or any bodily harm tending to death or destruction’ to the monarch ‘shall suffer pains of death, and also lose and forfeit as in cases of high treason,’ (p. 772). The ‘Seditious Meetings Act’ was focused on preventing any plotting or planning to disrupt the State. It ordered that permission and a licence was required for meetings where political policies were discussed and that such meetings should be restricted to no more than fifty people.

The long preface is in fact a substantial essay on the nature of liberty and on the complex nature of the social contract. Anonymously written and as yet unattributed, it includes remarks on the American War of Independence and revolves around the ambiguous nature of the two bills, can be seen as both an ‘infringement on the constitutional liberties of the subject’ yet as ‘absolutely necessary by the complexities of our times’ (Preface, [p. iii]).

ESTC T70590. Not common: not at Cambridge, or Princeton.

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