Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

one

understood that the work here alluded to is the celebrated Commentaries of Blackstone. For the adoption of this course, two strong reasons may be adduced. In the first place, it would be impossible to produce an original work which could offer such powerful claims for support as founded on the text of the commentaries themselves. In the second place, it must be evident that nothing could be more useful than to familiarise the young student with the plan, subjects, and even the language of the great work to which he was being introduced.

The present work, then, presents an abridgment of those portions of the Commentaries which are law at the present day. The abridginent is not, indeed, a literal one; but, generally speaking, all those portions of the Commentaries which a beginner can profitably study, have been carefully preserved. Merely to do this, however, would obviously not fully meet the wants of the student; and therefore, in addition, ample notice has been taken of the many alterations made in the law since Blackstone's time. Thus the student has presented to him a faithful view of the law as it at present exists. In fact, about one half of the present work is founded on Blackstone, whilst the other half

consists of notices of the late alterations in the law.

It should be stated that some of the chapters have been wholly re-written, on account of the great changes made since the Commentaries were published. This is the case with the chapters treating of Bankruptcy and Insolvency, the early sections of Proceedings at Law, the chapter of Equity Proceedings, Summary Proceedings before Justices, &c. To have attempted, in these instances, to weave in Blackstone's text would have been labour in vain, as scarcely a line is now law.

In order to enable the student readily to refer to . Blackstone, and also to the new Commentaries of Mr. Serjeant Stephen (founded on Blackstone) a reference is made at the beginning of each chapter and section to the corresponding parts of those works. This will enable the student to read the present work alone or in connection with Blackstone or Stephen. The young beginner, however, is not recommended to adopt this latter course, but it may prove very useful to the more advanced student. It will be noticed that the chapters of the present work do not all correspond with Blackstone's Commentaries, which arises from the occasional compression of two or more of Blackstone's chapters

PREFACE.

xxiii

into one.

Some slight deviation has also been made, in one or two instances, from the order of the original work, which, however, is only to the extent of treating of “ PARLIAMENT” under the head of “STATUTE Law,” and collecting all the scattered portions of the Commentaries relating to “ COURTS OF JUSTICE” into one chapter at the end of the work, which slight alterations will, it is hoped, be deemed improvements. It will be perceived that some of the statutes of the present session are embodied in the work, particularly the important statntes relative to proceedings in criminal cases, whilst some others are given in the Appendix. There are still some few of the statutes, but mostly unimportant, which are not noticed, they not being published at the time of completing this work. ·

It was originally intended not to give any other references than those at the head of each chapter and section, because the work being founded on Blackstone's Commentaries, requires no other support, except as to the new matter, which, however, invariably refers to its original—the statute law. But it was afterwards thought that it might be acceptable to the young student to have some references to works within his reach, and consequently the references to be found at the end of this volume

were added. It is hoped that the Editors will not be considered as having referred so often to their other works with any other design than to afford the reader further information from sources which, it is believed, will, in the majority of cases, be found already in his possession.

To render the work as complete and useful as possible there have been added a full Table of Contents, and a Translation of Latin Phrases.

In conclusion, it may be observed that though the work is peculiarly adapted to the young student, yet the more advanced may find it of some service, particularly if it be read concurrently with Blackstone or Stephen's Commentaries, or be used by way of reviewal.

1st September, 1848.

CHAP. I.

COMMON LAW OF ENGLAND.

[See 1 Black. Com. Introd. s. 3; 1 Steph. Com. Introd. sect. 3.]

England having been subject to various foreign rulers, each of whom engrafted upon the English law some portion of those laws under which the countries from whence they came were governed, the constitution of England consequently partakes of the Roman, Pictish, Saxon, Danish, Norman, and British laws. This well-known historical fact is here mentioned as explaining the great variety of customs which obtained at the common law.

Lex scripta et non scripta.] -The laws of Eng. land are of two kinds, namely, the unwritten (lex non scripta), or common law, and the written (lex scripta), or statute law.

The lex non scripta, or unwritten law, is a collection of maxims handed down in the records of the judicial decisions of our ancestors, called the common law of the country, in contradistinction to the lex scripta, or statute law of the land. In fact, the term “common law” primâ facie applies to those portions of our laws which had their origin prior to

B

« PreviousContinue »