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THE following Treatise is perhaps the most comprehensive and useful that has ever been compiled. It not only treats of every branch of the law connected with commerce, but it also contains most valuable practical information for merchants, on domestic and foreign commerce. The Author, Mr. BtAWES, from his education, employment, and official situation as British Consul, was peculiarly competent to afford the best practical information on every branch of commerce, and which could not be derived from books; and hence many of his observations in this work have been received in our courts of justice with: the highest respect, and have frequently become the basis of decisions in those courts, and consequently the work is peculiarly valuable as well to the lawyer as the merchant.
The subject is divided into Two Parts, or Volumes. In the First, after an interesting statement of the history and utility of commerce, and some useful observations as to the education, character, and conduct of a British merchant, every branch of British and foreign law affecting domestic or foreign commerce is collected.—In particular is considered the law relative to Ships, Shipowners, Captains, Mariners, Factors, Brokers, and other mercantile agents ; The Navigation Laws of Great Britain, the Registry Acts, the Statutes relative to Fisheries, the Law relative to Charter-parties, Bills of Lading, Freights, Demurrage, Bottomry, Ballast, Pilots, Wreck, Salvage, Average, Ports and Havens, Lighthouses, Letters of Mark and Reprisal, Privateers, Pirates, Convoys and . Cruizers, Captures, Bills of Health and Quarantine, Embargoes, Passports and Letters of Safe Conduct, Leagues and Truces, War and Peace, tle Law of the Admiralty and of Consuls, Insurances, Arbitrations, Aliens, Natıralization and Denization, Banks and Bankers, Usury; all Contracts, as Bonds, Bills of Exchange, Promissory Notes, &c. and the Law of Bankruptcy, &c. &c.
In the Second Part, or Volume, is given an Account of the Trade of the whole World, describing the Produce and Manufactures of each particular Country, and its accustomed Trade with other Countries, and a Statement of their Coins, Weights, and Measures.
· In the present Edition considerable alterations and additions have been made in the First Volume, and many modern decisions are noticed. But in the Second Volume, considering the unsettled state of foreign commerce, and the uncertainty what arrangements may take place on the return of peace, the Editor has considered it better not to attempt to alter the original work, except in a few instances, where it has appeared that no material change in the present state of things is likely to ensue. 1st October, 1812.
FROM THE EDITOR OF THE TWO PRECEDING EDITIONS.
HAT candour and liberality, which has ever distinguished the British nation, will render all apology unnecessary for the liberty the Editor ventures to take, of glorying in the very favourable reception which has been given to the last edition of this valuable work. Had it been his own original production, he could not more sensibly have felt the satisfaction this circumstance affords him. Delicacy, however, in that case might have confined him to a very concise, grateful acknowledgment; but as the chief merit of every edition must be founded on the intrinsic value of the extensive plan projected and carried into execution by the late venerable Mr. BEAWES; he may be allowed more freely to expatiate on the many advantages which the mercantile world, and the gentle. men of the long robe, have derived from it.
Being a complete commercial code, it has afforded useful information on all subjects of dispute respecting maritime and trading concerns, and has occasioned many amicable compromises and adjustments, by arbitration and references, without entering into tedious and expensive litigations; but when law-suits have been unavoidable, it has equally served as a guide to able counsellors and to learned judges on the bench, who have frequently quoted the precedents it furnishes of the custom of merchants, and of the decisions of former courts. This has been in a great measure set forth in the royal license for the exclusive right to publish, granted to the Author, upwards of forty years ago; and after the death of Mr. Beawes, the proprietors, encouraged by a continual demand for the work, grown into confirmed reputation, constantly took, every step in their power to improve the new editions, down to the present time; by instructing their Editor to make such valuable alterations and additions as the revolutions in commercial affairs; the modern decisions in our courts of law; and the increase of able commercial writers, rendered essentially necessary.
The extensive circulation and general approbation of the work in all parts of Europe, and even in Asia, was noticed in the advertisement prefixed to the last edition, it shall not therefore be repeated; but with respect to the present edition, it may be proper to observe, that the final settlement of the new government of the United States of America, and the great commercial revolution which established a treaty of commerce between France and Great Britain, made it the Editor's ardent wish, that a new impression might be called for, at no great distance of time from the dates of those important events.
A simplification of the customs, so far as it goes, has been one happy consequence of this unexpected new connection with our reputed natural enemies, and if no other national benefit had been derived from it, this alone would have been sufficient to have done honour to the talents and integrity of the present administration. But in justice to the framers of the last treaty of peace with France, let it likewise be remembered, that the basis of the Commercial Treaty, of the Consolidating Act, and of the Convention, was laid by them. All these treaties are inserted in their proper places.'
To this edition then we have been enabled to add, not only those and other public papers, such as the treaty with Spain, &c. but likewise a complete tariff of the duties on.
importation and exportation, drawbacks, bounties, &c. which could not even be at. tempted in any former edition, on account of the complex and perplexing mode of col. lecting the customs, before the Consolidating Act took place.
With respect to ancient documents of authority, the forms of which ha'e not undergone any alteration whatever, they are preserved as they stood in the oiginal, being testimonials of the care and attention of the deceased author, and menorials of the great number of years, that his book has been held in deserved esteem."
Some pages of obsolete matter, such for instance, as the ordinances regulating the old banks of France, established during the minority of Louis XV.; and other papers of a similar nature, have been rejected, and in their stead, new and interesting subjects of the present day have been introduced, which will be easily found in the General Contents, and in the Index. Unwilling, therefore, to descend to particulars, we shall only mention the last regulations of the corn trade, and the latest decisions upon that most important concern, the circulation of accommodation bills of exchange, with fictitious endorsements.
To the list of modern commercial writers, mentioned in the last edition, as having afforded great assistance to the editor, he has now to add the new edition of “ Cooke's Bankrupt Laws;" « The Reports of Cases adjudged in the Court of Chancery by William Brown, Esq. down to last Trinity Term 1791;" “ Kyd's Treatise on the Law of Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes ;” “ The Term Reports,” &c. From all these compilations, he has extracted whatever was essential to complete his own; and always with a candid acknowledgment of the obligation; a fair practice, which he takes this opportunity to recommend to those, who have most copiously borrowed from every edition of “ Lex MERCATORIA," without any restriction on the part of its respectable proprietors.
A new arrangement was judged necessary with respect to the Customs, which are transposed to the close of the work, with a view to annex further regulations of Government, which have been daily expected.
Finally, as the public funds are now generally considered to be the barometer of our national prosperity, which is reputed to increase or decrease, as they rise or fall in any great degree; and most of our merchants are deeply interested in them, for them. selves, and their foreign correspondents, the last general statement of them, as delia vered into Parliament, forms one very important article of the Appendix.