7. The libel is the first proceeding in a suit in admiralty in the courts of the United States. 3 Mas. C. C. 504.
No mesne process can issue in the United States a,dmiralty courts until a libel is filed, 1 Adm. 7, Rules of the U. S. Supreme Court. The twenty-second and twenty-third rules require certain statements to bc contained in the libel; and to those, and the forms in 2 Conkling, Adm. Pract., the reader is referred. And see Parsons, Merit. Law; Dunlap, Adm. Pract. ; Hall, Adm. Pract.
In Torts. That which is written or printed, and published, calculated to injure the character of another by bringing him into ridicule, hatred, or contempt. Parke, J., 15 Mees. & W. Exch. 344.
Every thing, written or printed, which re flects on the character of another and is published without lawful justification or ex cuse, is a libel, whateier the intention may have been. 15 Mees. & W. Exch. 437.
malicious defamation, expressed either in printing or writing, and tending either to blacken the memory of one who is dead or the reputation of one who is alive, and expose him to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule. 1 Hawkins, Pl. Cr. b. 1, c. 73, 1 ; 4 Mass. 168; 2 Pick. Mass. 115 ; 9 Johns. N.Y. 214 ; 1 Den. N. Y. 347; 24 Wend. N. Y. 434; 9 Barnew. & 41. 172 ; 4 Mann. Sc R. 127; 2 Kent, Comm. 13.
It has been defined, perhaps with more precision, to be a censorious or ridiculous writing, picture, or sign made with a mali cious or mischievous intent towards govern ment. magistrates, or individuals. 3 Johns. Cas. N. Y. 354; 9 Johns. N. Y. 215 ; 5 Binn. Penn. 340.
S. There is a great and well-settled dis tinction between verbal and written slander ; and this not only in reference to the conse quences, as subjecting the party to an indict ment, but also as to the chazacter of the accusations or imputations essential to sus tain a civil action to recover damages. To write and publish maliciously any thing of another which either makes him ridiculous or holds him out as a dishonest man, is held to be actionable, or punishable criminally, when the speaking of the same words would not be so. 1 Saund. 6th ed. 247 a; 4 Taunt. 355 ; 5 Binn. Penn. 219 ; Heard, Libel & S. 74 ; 6 Cush. Mass. 75.
9. Tbe reduction of the slanderous matter to writing or printing is the most usual mode of conveying it. The exhibition of a picture intimating that which in print would be libellous is equally criminal. 2 Campb. 512 ; 5 Coke, 125 ; 2 Serg. & R. Penn. 91. Fixing a gallows at a man's door, burning him in effigy, or exhibiting him in any igno minious manner, is a libel. IIawkins, Pl. Cr. b. 1, c. 73, s. 2 ; 11 East, 227.
There is, perhaps, no branch of the law which is so difficult to reduce to exact princi ples, or to compress within a small compass, as the requisites of a libel.
In the folloNting cases the publications have been held to be actionable. it is a libel to write of a person soliciting relief from a charitable society, that she prefers unworthy claims, which it is hoped the members will reject forever, and that she has squandered away money, already obtained by her from the benevolent, in printing circulars abusive of the secretary of the society. 12 Q. B. 624. It is libellous to publish of the plaintiff that, although he was aware of the death of a per son occasioned by his hnproperly driving a carriage, he had attended a public ball in the evening of the same day. 1 Chitt. Bail, 480. It is a libel to publish of a Protestant arch bishop that he endeavors to convert Roman Catholic priests by promises of money and preferment. 5 Bingli. 17. It is a libel to publish a ludicrous story of an individual in a newspaper, if it tend to render him the subject of public ridicule, although he had previously told the same story of himself. 6 Bingh. 409.
A declaration which alleges that the fendant charged the plaintiff, an attorney, with being guilty of " sharp practice," which is averred to mean disreputable practice, charges a libellous imputation. 4 Mees. & W. Exch. 446.
10. Any publication which has a tendency to disturb the public peace, or good order of society, is indictable as a libel. " This crime is committed," says Professor Greenleaf, "by the publication of writings blaspheming the Supreme Being, or turning the doctrines of the Christian religion into contempt and ridi cule; or tending, by their immodesty, to cor rupt the mind, and to destroy the love of decency, morality, and good order ; or wan tonly to defame or indecorously to calumniate the economy, order, and constitution of things which make up the general system of the law and government of the country ; to de grade the administration of government, or of justice; or to cause animosities between our own and any foreign government, by per sonal abuse of its sovereign, its ambassadors, or other public ministers ; and by malicious defamations, expressed in printiog or writing, or by signs or pictures, tending either to blacken the memory of one who is dead, or the reputation of one who is living, a,nd thereby to expose him to public hatred, con tempt, and ridicule. This descriptive cata logue embraces all the several species of this offence which are indictable at common law; all of which, it is believed, are indictable in the United States, either at common law, or by virtue of particular statutes." 3 Green leaf, Ev. 164. See 4 Mass. 163 ; 9 Johns. N.Y. 214; 4 M'Cord, So. C. 317; 9 N. H. 34.