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minds has done much: but we cannot but be aware how much remains to be done ; and how every day of neglect increases the difficulty of doing it. We have pointed out a means by which much may be accomplished, and in quarters where the example cannot but be influential and the impulse effectual. Let Ecclesiastical Patrons and the Higher Clergy (higher we mean in emoluments, for in reality all are equal inasmuch as the same work and authority lies on all) only regard what are called their rights as a Trust. If they will but do this, the Facilities for Public Worship in England's Church will be worthy of England's place among the Nations.
C. J. BURTON.
IV.—THE CODIFICATION OF THE LAW ON BILLS
IN EUROPE AND THE UNITED STATES.*
THE General Law of Germany respecting Bills of Exchange 1 (Allgemeine Deutsche Wechselordnung) had its origin in the common conviction of its absolute necessity for the commercial and financial intercourse of Germany. As far back as the years 1835 and 1836, the question was mooted at the Zollverein Congresses, which were held at that period at Frankfort, Leipzig, and other cities of Germany to regulate a tariff of customs dues for all Germany. In the
• The substance of this article was read as a paper at the Bremen Conference of the Association for the Reform avd Codification of the Law of Nations, September, 1876.
year 1836 the Government of Würtemberg took the first steps, and issued a minute, or Promemoria, addressed to the different States of Germany included in the Customs Union, inviting them to consider the important question of establishing a common commercial code and uniform rules in regard to the rights and liabilities of parties to Bills of Exchange. In the year 1838, Prussia, following the example of Würtemberg, made a further step in advance, and officially brought this question to the notice of the Governments of the different States of Germany. Between that date and the year 1847 a series of monographs appeared, the legal profession of Germany seriously occupying itself with this question. Finally, with marked astuteness, the Cabinet of Berlin issued an invitation to the other States of Germany to take part in a conference for the purpose of considering the pressing question of framing a uniform Law of Bills of Exchange and negotiable instruments. The delegates of the different Governments met the gth December, 1847, at Leipzig, and held thirty-five meetings, at which the principal points of difference were settled and voted upon, and a report adopted.
The National Assembly of the Confederate States of Germany,* by a large majority, adopted, with but slight modifications, the report of the Leipzig Conference, and, on the ist May, 1849, the law, as voted by this Assembly, came into operation ; with this reservation, that it only took effect on receiving final sanction in those States of Germany which elected to publish the law, that is, adopted it into their system of legislation by a separate Act of the Executive. Nearly all the States elected to publish the law as voted by the National Assembly, with very slight alterations. Austria, by Letters Patent, dated 25th January, 1850, adopted this law for all the Crown States of that Empire, including Hungary and its dependencies, (revoked at a later period by the Hungarian Chamber, 21st June, 1861, the principles of the General German Law being, however, retained with but minor modification).
* The following is a list of the States which attended :-Austria, Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony, Hanover, Wiirtemberg, Hohenzollern, the Duchie's of Baden and Hesse, Electoral Hesse, Holstein, Lauenburg, Thuringia, Brunswick, Nassau, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Oldenburg, Lübeck, Frankfort, Briment, Hamburg.
The General Law of Germany on Bills of Exchange has also been adopted by Sweden, 23rd August, 1851; Finland, 29th March, 1858; the Cantons of Switzerland (Concordats Entwurf), and Servia, following the example of Austria. The independent action of each State in adopting the Law, as voted by the National Assembly at Frankfort, naturally resulted in divergencies, each legislature yielding in its turn to the view of jurists of its own country, and that of the judges of its own courts. To meet this difficulty the various States of Germany, at the suggestion of Prussia, and by common consent, deputed delegates to attend a Conference, this time held at Nüremberg. At this Conference a sub-committee was appointed, whose report was published and submitted to the National Asseinbly, which, on the 15th April, voted a resoluion substantially adopting the report. A final report, made at a subsequent Conference held in Nüremberg, and adopted by the National Assembly on the 13th April, 1861, concluded the labours of those eminent Jurists to whom this important task had been entrusted by their respective Governments.
The practical usefulness of this Code has been proved during the many years of its application in regulating the dealings of Merchants and Traders in the various States of the great German, Scandinavian, and Austrian Kingdoms and Empires, peopled by races differing from each other in their traditions, language, and origin. Notwithstanding these differences one common law has by experience been found applicable to all alike. The vast importance of this Code of Bills of Exchange can hardly be over estimated. It rules the dealings of 791 millions of inhabitants, covering the enormous area of 363,921 German square miles. With these facts before us, it can scarcely be a matter of surprise that a conviction should be gaining ground that the time has arrived for common action on the part of the other European States, to follow the example of Germany and establish a Common Code for Bills of Exchange throughout Europe, and possibly to include the United States of America. Whether such a plan, suggested by no mean authorities, Bluntschli, Borchardt, Savigny, and Story, is feasible or not, is the question now before us. To enable us to answer either for or against this proposition, it becomes necessary to survey the juridical ground, and map out the lines of demarcation which sever the Juridical Systems of the different countries from one another. Story,* in his admirable Commentaries on the Law of Bills of Exchange, and to which I reser, has given a lucid account of the historical development of the Law of Bills of Exchange from the date of their first introduction, in the year 1181, when, according to Nougier (des Lettres de Change, V., II.), the Jews, having been driven out of France, invented a mandate, or written order, for the purpose of transferring their funds from France to other countries, where they had sought shelter. The theory, however, that the Italians first introduced the use of Bills of Exchange into Southern France, appears to be the most reasonable ; Raphael de Turri, + holding this view with, it appears, great weight of authority in his favour. But, whatever may have been the origin of Bills of Exchange, the ever expanding commerce of Europe soon availed itself of this mode of payment at distant places, and the obsolete “de platea ad plateam” mode of settling accounts, as it was termed, was displaced by the mandate of the debtor or
* Raphael de Tarri, Disp. I., Qa. 4, No. 19--38. † Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Law of Bills of Exchange, 1847. Origin and Nature of Bills of Exchange, pp. 16 and 27. Dr. F. A. Biener, Wechselrechtliche Abhandlung, Leipzig, 1857; Uebersicht d. Geschichte d. Wechsels, ss. 16 and 21.
remitter, payable at a given fair or market. In the year 1597 the Duke of Parma, Raniucio Farnese, keenly alive to the profits which attached to the negotiation of Bills of Exchange, transferred the Bourse or Bill Exchange Market to Piacenza from Besançon.
The rules relating to these instruments as established at Besançon were adopted by the merchants at Piacenza, and subsequently by the Genoese and other Italian traders. The importance of the transactions in those early days may be inferred from the numerous corporations called “ Campsores" and “Mercatores,” which were formed in almost every city of commercial importance in Italy. These Corporations enjoyed a wide-spread credit, and possessed judicial power. In fact, Italy at that period owed much of its commercial activity to these bodies. In the year 1407 the celebrated Bank of San Giorgio was established by the Genoese*, and now Genoa, Venice, Florence, and Milan vied with one another in offering banking facilities to the foreign trader. The French, with their habitual quickness, soon learnt to adopt what the Italians had originated. Only at a later period did the northern states of Europe, Germany, Holland, England, and the Scandinavian kingdoms, adopt Bills of Exchange as a means of settling commercial accounts with foreign countries. But whilst the different nations in their turn followed the example and profited by the teaching of the Italians, the requirements of each State, and likewise the prejudices so often produced by wrongly interpreted juridical principles, resulted in a variance both in the form and practice, as well as the principle of these instruments. • It has thus happened that the same instrument, created
for like purposes, has assumed different aspects in Italy, France, England, and Germany; three great systems being ultimately evolved by the Jurists, the Legislators, and the Courts of Law of these various states.
* Serra, Storia dell antica Liguria T., III., pp. 73-74.