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As some explanation seems due, on taking up a subject which another author had justly made his own, in a manner so able as Mr. Tait had that of Justices of the Peace, the following particulars are laid before the reader.
Mr. Tait, finding that his many duties as SheriffSubstitute of the county of Edinburgh, (a situation which he fills with so much credit), would not allow him any leisure to prepare a new edition of his Summary, which had been called for, determined, with the utmost liberality, to leave the field open, for the present, to some one of his brethren at the Bar who might wish to enter upon it. When advised to occupy myself in this way, I proposed merely to re-edit Mr. Tait's book. Mr. Tait, however, desired, that the whole of the ground should be gone over again, and that his Summary should not be cited as an authority; a rule which I much regret, since, from reference to the original sources, I now know his accuracy to be remarkable. Mr. Tait, at the same time, not only permitted me to make every other use of his book, but, in the most kind and handsome manner, lent me his own numerous notes and memoranda, and afforded me much assistance by his ready and useful suggestions; for all which very great obligations I am glad, thus publicly, to offer my warmest acknowledgments.
The present compilation is entirely a fresh one, and has therefore received a new name; for although almost all the subjects are the same with those treated of by Mr. Tait, yet even since his last edition many changes have been introduced, and from my proposed plan, every title has been rewritten.
In preparing this work, the chief objects have been, to render it as concise, and as easy of reference as possible. With a view to the former, nothing that seemed unimportant, or not directly connected with Justices of Peace, has been given. And, for sake of the latter, the various subjects have been kept as strictly in alphabetical order as appeared consistent with distinctness. Besides, every title has been divided and subdivided into Parts (1.), Sections (1.), Articles (A), and Minor Branches (a), with separate headings to each of these portions—while it is hoped the Index may be of further assistance to those who consult the volume.
The first part of the Appendix contains all the most essential Forms, taken from 'Tait, Hutcheson, the Schedules annexed to Statutes, &c. The second part comprehends several of those Acts of Parliament, &c. which it seems most desirable that Justices should have at hand.
In referring to authorities, I have been particularly desirous to cite those most likely to be in the hands of Justices, and others, not immediately connected with the legal profession. Hence, I have, as often as possible, quoted Hutcheson (both by book, chapter, and section, and by the page of the last edition), and Erskine's Principles, and have less frequently referred to Stair, &c. or to Decisions. At the same time, in alluding to cases, I have, where it seemed of consequence, endeavored to convey some idea of the nature of the dispute, without which the mere name is of no use, but as a guide to the Reports.
I fear, that, if this book come to be used practically, I shall be found to stand in need of much indulgence for errors and omissions; but I hope it will be remembered, that, in so multifarious a work, it is extremely difficult to avoid these at first, or to detect them before occasions for employing it as a Manual have arisen.
The New Act regulating Weights and Measures having passed too late for notice in the Text, a Title containing its substance is given as an Addendum at the end of the work.
EDINBURGH, September 1834.