« ForrigeFortsett »
dation. I am at a loss which most to admire, the full and accurate learning which it contains, or the neat, perspicuous, and sometimes elegant style, in which that learning is conveyed.
The treatise of Sir Henry Finch, being a discourse in Finch's Disfour books on the maxims and positive grounds of the law, was first published in French, in 1613, and we have the authority of Sir William Blackstone for saying, that his method was greatly superior to all the treatises that were then extant. His text was weighty, concise, and nervous, and his illustrations apposite, clear, and authentic. But the abolition of the feudal tenures, and the disuse of real actions, have rendered half of his work obsolete. Shepherd's Touchstone of Common Assurances was the Shepherd's
Touchstone. production of Mr. Justice Dodderidge, in the reign of James 1. It is a work of great value and authority, touching the common law modes of conveyance, and those derived from the statute of uses. It treats also copiously of the law of uses and devises; but the great defect of the book is the want of that lucid order and perspicuous method which are essential to the cheerful perusal and ready perception of the merits of such a work. The second volume of Collectanea Juridica has an analysis of the theory and practice of conveyancing, which is only a compendious abridgment of the Touchstone ; and there is a very improved edition of it by Preston, who has favoured the profession with several excellent tracts on the law of real property. Rolle's Abridgment of the Law was published soon after Rolle's A
bridgment. the restoration, with an interesting preface by Sir Matthew Hale. It brings down the law to the end of the reign of Charles I., and though it be an excellent work, and, in point of method, succinctness, and legal precision, a model of a good abridgment, Sir Matthew Hale considered it an unequal monument of the fame of Rolle, and that it fell short of what might have been expected from his abilities and great merit. It is also deemed, by Mr. Hargrave, a great defect in Viner's very extensive abridgment, that he should
have attempted to engraft it on such a narrow foundation as that of Rolle's work. Rolle was chief justice of England under the protectorate of Cromwell, and under the preceding commonwealth ; but as bis abridgment was printed in the reign of Charles II., he has no other title annexed to his name than that of Serjeant Rolle, and his republican dignity was not recognised.
Since the period of the English revolution, the new digests have superseded the use of the former ones; and Bacon, Viner, Comyns, and Cruise, contain such a vast accession of modern law learning, that their predecessors have fallen into oblivion. Viner's Abridgment, with all its defects and inaccuracies, is a convenient part of every lawyer's library. We obtain by it an easy and promptaccess to the learning of the Year Books, and the old abridgments, and the work is enriched with many reports of adjudged cases, not to be found elsewhere ; but, after all that can be said in its favour, it is
an enormous mass of crude undigested matter, and not worth Comens' Di the labour of the compilation. The digest of Lord Chief Baron
Comyns is a production of vastly higher order and reputation, and it is the best digest extant upon the entire body of the English law. Lord Kenyon held his opinion alone to be of great authority, for he was considered by his contemporaries as the most able lawyer in Westminster Hall. The title Pleader has often been considered as the most elaborate and useful head of the work, but the whole is distinguished for the variety of the matter, its lucid order, the
precision and brevity of the expression, and the accuracy Bacon's A- and felicity of the execution. Bacoa's Abridgment was
composed chiefly from materials left by Lord Chief Baron Gilbert. It has more of the character of an elementary work than Comyns' Digest. The first edition appeared in 1736, and was much admired, and the abridgment has maintained its great influence down to the present time, as being
a 3 Term, 64, 631.
a very convenient and valuable collection of principles, arising under the various titles in the immense system of the English law. And in connexion with this branch of the subject, it will be most convenient, though a little out of the order of time, to take notice of Cruise's recent and very Cruise's Di valuable Digest of the laws of England respecting real property. It is by far the most perfect elementary work of the kind, which we have on the doctrine of real property, and it is distinguished for its methodical, accurate, perspicuous, and comprehensive view of the subject. All his principles are supported and illustrated by the most judicious selection of adjudged cases. They are arranged with great skill, and applied in confirmation of his doctrines with the utmost pertinency and force.
The various treatises of Lord Chief Baron Gilbert are of Baron Gilhigh value and character, and they contributed much to advance the science of law in the former part of the last century. His treatise on Tenures deserves particular notice, as having explained upon feudal principles several of the leading doctrines in Littleton and Coke; and it is a very elementary and instructive essay upon that abstruse branch of learning. His essay on the Law of Evidence is an excellent performance, and the groundwork of all the subsequent collections on that subject; and it still maintains its character, notwithstanding the law of evidence, like most other branches of the law, and particularly the law of commercial contracts, has expanded with the progress and the exigencies of society. His treatise on the law of Uses and Trusts is another work of high authority, and it has been rendered peculiarly valuable, by the revision and copious notes of Mr. Sugden.
The treatises on the Pleas of the Crown, by Sir Matthew Hale and Hale and Sergeant Hawkins, appeared early in the last century, and they contribute to give precision and certainty to that most deeply interesting part of jarisprudence. They are both of them works of authority, and have had great sanction, and been uniformly and strongly recommended
Sky Martin to the profession. Sir Martin Wright's Introduction to
the Law of Tenures is an excellent work, and the value of it cannot be better recommended than by the fact, that Sir William Blackstone has interwoven the substance of that treatise into the second volume of his commentaries. Dr. Wood published in 1722 his Institute of the Laws of England. His object was to digest the law, and to bring it into better order and system. By the year 1754, his work had passed through eight folio editions, and thereby afforded a decisive proof of its value and popularity. It was greatly esteemed by the lawyers of that age; and an American judge,a (himself a learned lawyer of the old school,) has spoken of Wood as a great authority, and of weight and respect in Westminster Hal).
But it was the fate of Wood's Institutes to be entirely superseded by more enlarged, more critical, and more at
tractive publications, and especially by the Commentaries Blackstone. of Sir William Blackstone, who is justly placed at the bead
of all the modern writers who treat of the general elementary principles of the law. By the excellence of his arrangement, the variety of his learning, the justness of his taste, and the purity and elegance of his style, he communicated to those subjects which were harsh and forbidding in the pages of Coke, the attractions of a liberal science, and the embellishments of polite literature. The second and third volumes of the commentaries are to be thoroughly studied and accurately understood. What is obsolete is necessary to illustrate that which remains in use, and the greater part of the matter in those volumes is law at this day, and on this side of the Atlantic.
I have necessarily been obliged to omit the mention of many valuable works upon law, as my object in the present
lecture was merely to select those which were the most Modern useful or distinguished. With respect to the modern di
a M Kean, Ch. J. 1 Dallas, p.
dactic treatises on various heads of the law, and which have multiplied exceedingly within the period of the present generation, I can only take notice of a few of those which relate to the law of real property, and are deemed the most important. The numerous works, both foreign and domestic, on various branches of the law of personal rights and commercial contracts, I may have occasion to refer to hereafter, as the subjects of which they treat pass under consideration, in the course of these lectures. Any critical notice of them at present, would lead us too far from the general purpose of this inquiry, and many of them are not sufficiently matured by time to become of much authority.
Sanders' Essay on Uses and Trusts is a comprehensive and systematic treatise, but it wants that fulness of illustration, and neat and orderly arrangement, requisite in the discussion of so abstruse and complicated a branch of the law. The learned Mr. Butler has given a very elaborate note on the same subject ;" and there is an excellent summary of the law of uses and trusts in Cruise's Digest, arranged with his customary skill, and supported by an accurate analysis of adjudged cases, which are apposite and pertinent to the inquiry.
Sugden's Practical Treatise on Powers is the best book we have on that very abstruse title in the law. It was regarded by the author as his favourite performance, and he is entitled to the gratitude of the student for his masterly execution of the work. It is perspicuous, methodical, and accurate. Mr. Sugden's Treatise on the Law of Vendors and Purchasers, is also a correct and useful collection of equity principles on a subject extremely interesting, and of constant forensic discussion. Roberts on Fraudulent Conveyances covers a very important head in the jurisprudence of the courts of equity. He has collected the cases arising under the statutes of 13 and 27 Elizabeth, respecting conveyances that are deemed fraudulent in respect to creditors