Page images



Professor of Law in Cornell University School of Law. Boston: Little, Brown & Company. 1895. Cloth. pp. xlvill, 249.

This is one of the Students' Series of Elementary Law Treatises, similar in size and plan to the others of the series, and intended, as its preface explains, " to set forth the manner in which obligations are incurred, through the act of an agent, and to do this as a natural sequence to a study of the manner in which like obligations are incurred by one's own acts.” This subject has been well and skillfully accomplished and the treatise which is set before us bears the mark of careful and thorough work directed toward securing the necessary condensation and clearness of expression without the sacrifice of any part of the subject. This is especially true of the general arrangement of the subject, and the felicitous manner in which the different aspects of the agency are distinguished and made plain. The book is also well up to date, covering, for instance, although without much discussion, the interesting questions suggested by the recent case of Gwillim v. Twist, and by the emergency requirements of railway accidents. If my omnibus is left in the street driverless, does the fact that I have only in fact authorized a drunken man to drive it, free me from liability for the negligence of the volunteer who takes his place in a manner otherwise to my manifest benefit? If a pauper needs instant medical attendance which the town is bound to furnish, must the only available physician go unpaid because he has not time to notify the overseers of the poor? Can the negligent railway corporation, whose train goes down an embankment and injures the passengers, calmly explain afterwards that the conductor had no power to call in a doctor? And indeed has the brakeman less urgent need, or a less real authority, when the conductor is killed than the conductor might have had? All these but the last call in question holdings of respectable courts; and yet what on the whole can be said of a course of reasoning such as this except that it clearly grants an unjust and profitable protection, enabling the principal to cloak himself behind his agents on the ground of a pretended lack of authority, and yet to reserve all the while the right to step forward and ratify any action beneficial to himself? And is not the doctrine of agency by necessity only in fact an extension of the doctrine of scope of authority to a point where it parts company frankly from the actual contractual notion of powers in fact committed to the agent by the principal? Take, for instance, the case of the undisclosed principal who forbids his agent to buy on credit, and is yet held for the purchase money when the agent disobeys his orders. Can that liability be founded upon any ground of assent in fact? If Professor Huffcut's admirable little book may fairly be said to be defective in any part, it is that throughout scarcely sufficient stress is laid upon the points suggested by these questions, that is to say, upon the fact that the law of agency is in large part a law of status, rather than of contract, that the rights and liabilities of the principal are determined not by himself, but, after he has begun the agency, by the law for him, until he can honorably lay down his tools. One fancies in places that the author's leanings of opinions were in this direction, and that here and ou one or two other points he held himself in with the desire not to go beyond the principles for which he could offer the student chapter and verse out of the cases. If that is indeed the fact, his reticence has prevented his book from being one of the few text-books which, like, Blackburn on Sale, do not become antiquated. Whatever the fact, it has not prevented his book from being a valuable one, or from promising to be unusually useful for both students and lawyers.

1 (1895) 1 Q. B. 557; 43 W. R. 566.


[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

WALKER'S AMERICAN LAW.- Introduction to American Law Designed as a First Book for

Students. By TIMOTHY WALKER, LL.D., Late Professor of Law in the Cincinnati Col. lege. Tenth Edition. Revised by Clement Bates, of the Cincinnati Bar. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. 1895. Here comes a book lacking but a year of being sixty years old, yet having the fresh look of youth. It is the tenth edition of Walker's Lectures upon the general principles of American Jurisprudence. The lectures were delivered before the students of the law school of the Cincinnati College between the years 1833 and the date of publication of the first edition, 1837.

The author also prepared and published the editions of 1844 and 1855. The subsequent editions have been prepared by other hands, the present edition being by Clement Bates, Esq.

The appearance of the tenth edition of this book is conclusive that it possesses great and unusual merits, else it could not have survived the great changes in the law and in the methods of teaching the law, that have taken place in these sixty years, and notably within the last twenty years. When the author published his book he offered an apology for adding to the multitude of books, so far as to explain his reason for publishing it. And yet in 1837 how few were the American law books. Judge Story had published his famous works. Chancellor Kent had published his commentaries. The American reports of decisions were few, compared with the thousands of volumes of to-day. English works upon many topics of the law were in general use. Mr. Walker was led to publish his lectures because there was then no comprehensive and systematic outline of the law as administered in the American courts. In his preface he says: “While pursuing my legal studies, I found myself much in the condition of a mariner without chart or compass. I experienced at every step the want of a first book upon the law of this country. I felt that much time would have been saved if I could have commenced my course with a systematic outline of American instead of English law; for, as the two systems differ in nearly as many points as they correspond, and as I had no means of distinguishing between the applicable and the inapplicable, I necessarily acquired many false impressions, the more difficult to be subsequently corrected because they were first impressions. In a word, I came to the conclusion that fewer facilities have been provided for studying the elementary principles of American jurisprudence, than for perhaps any other branch of useful knowledge."

He elsewhere says that there was no work on American law at all suitable

[ocr errors]

is except



[ocr errors]

it perts

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

for a first book; that Kent's Commentaries were not designed for a first book, for his work presupposes some elementary knowledge both of terms and principles. Consequently Blackstone's Commentaries was in general use as a first book in the law.

The great merit of this work is that it is a clean and simple statement of the elementary principles of American jurisprudence in all its branches. The first four lectures are introductory and historical. Then follow seven lectures on Constitutional and Political law; seven on the law of Persons; fifteen on the law of Property; three on the law of Crimes; five on the law of Procedure and finally three on International law. Mr. Walker was a reformer in the law, advocating many changes which have been adopted since he taught and wrote. His style, a matter of great importance, attracts by its clearness and force. It becomes apparent, therefore, how it is that this work survives all the changes of these many years.

The notes are sufficiently full for the purpose of a first book, and the editors have cited enough of the more recent cases to keep the book in touch with the decisions of to-day.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
[graphic][subsumed][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »