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the French codifiers under Bonaparte. But then again, the doings of our legislatures, at every session, imply some substantial defects in the existing laws, and it is no imputation against their sagacity and faithfulness, to suppose that many others escape a partial examination, and some which may run through an entire series of statutes, which may be more certainly detected and effectually remedied by a general systematic revision, for the thoroughness and skilful accomplishment of which, the reputation of commissioners especially appointed to the task, is pledged, than by the desultory revisions to which temporary legislators may be prompted by the spur of the occasion or some local inconvenience. What objection could there be to a systematic revision of all the statute laws every fifty years? Some would fear to subject them to so rude a shock so often. But the truth is, they are as much and even more exposed at every session of the legislature; for there is greater danger of innovation and derangement from extempore revision and the sudden projects occasionally started in pursuance of temporary and local impulses, than from periodical reformations gravely and deliberately undertaken. It has been urged that it is in vain to seek for a perfect system of laws in codification, and in illustration of this opinion, we are told that some hundred or two of volumes of commentaries on the various parts of the French code, have appeared during the short period since its promulgation. This objection is apparently founded on the supposition that the multiplication of treatises and commentaries, is a conclusive indication of an imperfect, deranged state of the laws. Grant this assumption for the moment, and conversely an absence of all treatises, and digests, and commentaries, is a proof of the perfection of the existing laws. Now we do not remember to have ever heard of a Turkish treatise on insurance or bills of exchange, and we must, according to this doctrine, infer that the Turkish law upon these two branches is perfect. But some will doubt the perfection of the Turkish laws of insurance and bills of exchange, notwithstanding this cogent argument, and will even go so far as to deny the whole assumption, and assert that, in law, as in every other science, a rapid progress is always attended by a multiplicity of publications. If the social condition, arts, and external relations of a people, could be fixed, if society could be arrested and petrified in its present position, we might then suppose an entire system of laws to be devised, which might, without inconvenience, be as stationary as the people for which it should be intended. But since society is, in fact, alive and changing, and new relations, interests, arts, frauds, crimes and subjects of contract, are continually arising, the best immutable code that could be devised, would be but ill adapted to our very mutable condition.

The original treatises and compilations, as well as the numerous volumes of reports, of domestic production, that have made their appearance in our libraries of late years, are evident indications of our juridical progress; but our ready access to England for laws adapted to our institutions and babits, while it was a great advantage, was at the same time a weighty discouragement to the undertaking of any original works, after the materials had sufficiently accumulated for making them. Were a young imperfectly taught artist to be put into an immense quarry of the best of marble, with the Apollo Belvidere, the Venus de Medicis, Torso, &c. before his eyes, he might well be disheartened, and despair of ever drawing from those shapeless masses, forms fit to be placed beside such chefsd'auvres. And he would be still less disposed to try his chisel upon this marble chaos, if he knew that his creations were to be submitted to prejudiced judges, who admired the specimens with which his works must be compared, for more beauties than they possessed, and were prepared to condemn the products of his own skill, for imaginary defects. The situation of the members of the profession in the United States, was not wholly dissimilar. After the establishment of the independence of this country, the materials for treatises, commentaries, and digests rapidly accumulated, but they long hesitated to make works in competition with Comyns, Sir Matthew Hale, and Blackstone. To the works of these and the numberless other masters of the common law, they chose, for a long time, to make modest supplements, and an attempt at any thing like a substitute would have been considered presumption. At length we began to make compilations of precedents and forms, and, after a time, here and there a bold spirit would venture upon something in the shape of a treatise, but still with an apologizing and fearful tone, doubting his strength to heave off the ponderous weight of British authority, and stem the mighty current of British competition. Our emancipation from this oppression (though on the whole for the time fortunate,) of foreign juridical authority, has since been accomplish

ed, and our civilians can now move in a free space, and are not without encouragements to appropriate and work up for themselves the mass of rich materials in wbich they before were buried.

It was long before the time when an orginal American book on jurisprudence had ceased to be a phenomenon, that Mr. Dane began to devote his days and nights to no less a work than a full and comprehensive Digest of American Law, and continued to pursue his labors in his undisturbed retirement, for successive years, until, in 1823, their result was given to the public. The task was truly Herculean, of which ihe difficulties and discouragements cannot now be readily understood. There were our own multisarious constitutions, statutes, decisions, and usages, mingled in wide confusion, with the fragments torn from the common law of England, floating and tossing, like the wrecks of edifices and forests in a troubled sea, in the currents and counter-currents of our own legislation, and the domestic and foreign judicial administration. To find a broad and stable base to build upon, and select and bring together the suitable materials from this wide chaos, and combine them into any thing like a systematical and homogeneous structure, seemed to be a work beyond the greatest strength exerted with untiring industry, and the most enduring patience. But Mr. Dane, not dismayed by the magnitude of the undertaking, engaged in and pursued it with a quiet and steady perseverance, and accomplished it without ostentation. His work has now been long before the public, and we shall not go back to scrutinize its merits and defects. That it is an immense work, difficult and arduous to accomplish, and exceedingly useful now it is accomplished, nobody will deny. Nor will it be disputed that it contains enough to make a diligent student, a learned lawyer. If it should be found, on repeated examination and after long experience, that some parts admit of improvement in arrangement, or the details of its execution, it will only prove that one man has not accomplished, in this instance, what successive generations of authors have failed to do in others. It still would stand acknowledged, a vast repository of legal science, and an imperishable monument of the author's industry and learning, and not the less honorable on account of its being erected from a generous attachment to the science of which it is the repository, and not from any urgent necessity to labor, or any personal motives.



The recent additional volume, which gives occasion to this notice, is at present tbe most practically useful of the whole nine of which the work is now composed, consisting mostly of the accumulations from the time of the previous volumes being prepared for the press in 1821, down to 1829, when this was published, and accompanied, like the former, with a very full and well digested index, which no lawyer can consult with the least care, without readily finding whatever the volume contains to his purpose, and it contains, among other things, abstracts of the most important decisions made in the courts of the United States, the several states, and England, during that period. In this respect, we cannot give a better account of it than the author himself does in the preface. He says,

“The cases added will be a few select American decisions made, and laws enacted, before 1820, and, generally, those decided and enacted since, American and foreign; in both cases the marginal references to cases of any age, as they may apply, will be added.

"As American law, especially in print, is vastly increased since this work was originally and mainly formed, now and in future there ought to be included in it a much greater proportion of late American, and much less of English law; more especially as eminent judges and lawyers in the United States very justly hold English decisions, made since the United States became independent, not to be binding authorities in them, and, not being such, they are but the opinions of eminent judges and chancellors, as may be thousands in other nations; however, the English decisions are very often on the principles, and often on the very words of our own laws, these and those of England being in many cases the same; also it is thus the superiority of the English over the American decisions is rapidly passing away.

“This ninth volume is made up almost entirely of decisions in law and equity, American and English, made in supreme courts within the last nine years, and is taken from more than thirty volumes, among others, of the latest reports of which there is no other abridgment. The author has found no occasion to add any new chapters, and but very few new articles; hence the parts of this ninth volume are almost invariably additions to the articles and sections in the eight volumes. In the eight volumes, the author copiously included ancient law, because now found in but few law libraries, and yet is law, and a large portion of Maine and Massachusetts law. He, in this additional volume, has found room to include a larger portion of the laws of other states in the Union, as far as judicial decisions have been reported. After all, as formerly observed, the enactment of near thirty legis

latures, and the decisions of as many supreme courts, are so extremely numerous in nine years only, that a large volume can be but a mere sketch of them; and this with a view mainly to show the spirit and principles of the laws in our several states. As the union of our states, on republican principles, is the first object, and the sameness of leading principles throughout the whole, are essential to that union, the author often takes occasion to notice and enforce those principles; and, of course, to select largely from those laws and constitutions best calculated to bind the states together on federal and republican principles. He can hardly realize that oue sister state in this Union ought to view another as a foreign state. In this ninth volume, as in the others, the more important cases are abridged, the less important are often only digested. In it are a suitable index and table of cases, but no table of contents; as, to most of the matter in it, the table of contents in the first volume applies.' pp. iii. iv.

Though, as the author intimates in the above extract, this voluine consists mostly of abstracts and digests of cases reported in the United States and England, yet it is not limited to these. On the subjects of commercial law and contracts, particularly, he has taken a wider range. Since the former eight volumes went to the press, says the author, 'I have reviewed the new commercial code, of France and the Eng-. lish and our laws, on the same subject. In many cases in this code I find precision and certainty, where, in the English and our laws, I find the opposite character. I have, therefore, added a small selection from this code in cases in which it highly merits attention; and I can say, with those who say there is a moral excellency in the whole code, it has “a sacred regard for private property and public order. It enjoins the faithful performance of contracts, ordains the prompt administration of justice, and requires the unsullied purity of the mercantile character."! We accordingly find that under the titles of Freight, Wages of Seamen, Charterparty, and Partners, the author gives extensive abstracts from the French code, and some from Pothier.

A volume of this description gives some idea of the comparative share occupied, in the various judicatories, by the different classes of questions. We observe that the title Executors and Admipistrators' is pretty prominent, and that of * Poor' is quite considerable, though the cases cited are all those of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York, excepting one from B. & C.

The subject treated in this volume under the title of · Partners


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