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is, in our opinion, a work which they who practise in Sir C. Cresswell's court will find a necessary shelf-book," or “table-book," or “ court-book ;” or,
if Messrs. Pritchard will still have it so, a “ Hand-book.” Reports of Cases in the Court of Probate, and in the Court for
Divorce and Matrimonial Causes. By M. C. M. Swabey, D.C.L., and T. H. Tristram, D.C.L. London : Butterworths.
RENEWED acquaintance with these reports, since their first publication, enables us to speak favourably of them. Imperfect reports are useless ; inaccurate reports are mischievous; unauthorized reports, however carefully and correctly executed, suffer under the disadvantage of not being received in court as conclusive. If the lawyer is misled (as we have known him to be) by the latter, the blame is
his shoulders, and so he cannot dispepse with the costly volumes of the regular reports. The reports by Dr. Swabey and Dr. Tristram being essential under the new régime, alike for the library of the lawyer frequenting the common-law courts, as for him of Lincoln's Inn, it is satisfactory to be able to say, that we perceive, independently of their own proper merits, and having regard to the usual scale of prices in England, the amount of matter rendered for the money seems liberal—for the page is fuller than in some reports.
It is but due to the publishers to mention this, as the impost for reports is found to be not a trifling point with many of our profession. The Practice of the Court of Probate in Common Form Business, &c.
By Henry Charles Coote, Proctor in Doctors Commons, and the Practice of the Court in Contentious Business. By T. H. Tristram, D.C.L., Advocate in Doctors Commons and of the Inner Temple. Second Edition. London: Butterworths, 1859. MR. COOTE was early in the new field of practice opened up by the recent Probate Court Act, and he produced a good treatise, which we reviewed at the time. He has done well to bring out, in conjunction with Dr. Tristram, the second edition, with the additions and alterations, necessitated by the progress of law. Since the publication of the first edition of the above work, two amendment acts have been passed, “ The Probate Cause Act, 1858,” and the “ Confirmation and Probate Act, 1858.” A new set of rules has also been issued. References will be found in this edition, we believe, to all the reported decisions of Sir Cresswell Cresswell, upon points of common form, as well as the directions to the officers of the court, given by this distinguished judge, to whose learning and ability the successful working of the new court is mainly attributable.'
This work of Mr. Coote's will be found especially useful in practice, as he has given full directions for obtaining probates and administra
1 The only opinion adverse to this which we have seen, is in a recent pamphlet, equally foolish and scurrilous, and emanating obviously from one who is the victim of excessive vånity.
tions, and for altering and re-sealing them; and a valuable collection of original forms of oaths, affidavits, citations, and other instruments. This description of the present edition must suffice ; for the book is one of practice, and affords little opportunity for particular criticism. Our general criticism amounts to-and it is the most favourable we can offer of any book of the kind—a commendation of it as an excellent book of practice.
Dr. Tristram's treatise on the contentious practice of the court, constitutes also a valuable feature of the volume.
The Universal Review of Politics, Literature, and Social Science,
London : Allen & Co. March and April 1859.
We advert to this new monthly periodical, not because it directly concerns matters legal, but because we think, judging from the tone of the two numbers which have already appeared, that it is likely to be a publication interesting to many of our readers. For the most part, the ephemeral monthly literature has, we think, degenerated during the last twenty years ; or, it may be, the taste and requirements of readers of periodicals have been elevated, and have outgrown their former food. One never hears of people who read “the monthlies” nowadays, excepting always the two leading publications. The managers of the Universal propose to themselves to emulate the Révue des Deux Mondes in the special cultivation of genuine criticism, extending over fields about which educated men and women of the present day profess to know and care somewhat. Much of the quarterly literature is weighty, without being satisfactory. The interval between the publication of successive numbers is too long for some purposes, and too short for others. The “Universal, aspires, so far as we can at present judge, to literary qualities not inferior to those of the ancient Quarterlies, while it means to superadd a more lively, rapid, and active vigilance over contemporary doingsliterary, political, and social. The social science attributes of the new undertaking will, we hope, be a strong point in its conduct. To our colonists and expatriated friends, who now can obtain oftentimes
bi-monthly,” as it is termed, their books and letters, and who retain their interest in what is doing in the social and literary world, we think we can commend the Universal Review, on trial at least. 1. A Handy Book on the Law of Bills, Cheques, Notes, and I. O. U.s.
By James Waller Smith, Esq., LL.D., Barrister-at-Law. London:
Effingham Wilson. 2. A Handy Book on the Law of Private Trading, Partnership. By
the same Author and Publisher.
Once for all, we protest against any more “Handy” books. This pirating of titles is at the least in bal taste. It is spreading beyond the book trade. The other day we saw recommended a “ Handy Foot Bath.” But having protested against the title of these little shilling works, we must admit their virtues. The first has reached
its eleventh, the next its second thousand. They are not intended for the legal practitioner, but for the commercial and general public; and as compendious and cheap statements of certain rights and liabilities, they have considerable merit. Although very few professional persons
will procure or use Mr. Smith's little works, they may certainly recommend them to any lay friends who are curious to learn something about the subjects he has treated of.
AMERICAN LAW LITERATURE.
SEVERAL important text books emanating from American jurists are now before us. We can do little else on this occasion than briefly describe their contents and give our readers some notion thereof, and of their value to English lawyers. In almost every instance the subjects are ably treated, and will be found of value to the practitioner in this country even.
But to those who take a more liberal view of their profession than that of its bread-producing power, and who desire to keep before their eyes the scientific aspects and various phases of jurisprudence-to observe the different application of the principles which the systems of both countries have in commonto notice in what instances conflicts of opinion in the courts of America or England arise, and what arguments are employed and may be raised in support of our brethren on the other side of the Atlantic, and in what measure they may be adopted here under analogous circumstances; in short, to all who are concerned to be well informed on matters legislative, judicial, or jurisprudential, the learned productions we are now alluding to must prove both interesting and useful. To some of the volumes which we now proceed to notice, we shall hereafter refer at length, for the purpose of considering them more elaborately, especially in their bearings and influences on English law.
A Practical Treatise upon the Law of Railways. By Isaac F. Redfield, LL.D., Chief Justice of Vermont. Second edition,
Boston : Little, Brown, & Co., 1858.
CHIEF JUSTICE REDFIELD published in 1857 his work on railways, and the following year a new edition was required. His aim was to supply a volume, not over cumbersome, upon the whole law relating to railroads both English and American. With this view the author desires to embrace under the scope of his book every case which has been decided in both countries, but in such a form as not to convert his treatise into a Digest. This indeed appears the proper mode of treating “cases." Mere statements of principles, without the illustration from authentic instances which have been reported, make small impression on the reader, and are of comparatively trifling practical utility; whilst the huddling together of marginal notes, after the manner of a digest, is useful only on certain occasions, and then to those alone who are conversant with the subject.
Mr. Redfield has had to consider upwards of three thousand reported cases, which alone will indicate the labour which has fallen to bis lot, and that which he has saved practitioners who may have to advise upon and determine, often in haste, points of law in connection with railways.
We do not purpose now to analyse Chief-Justice Redfield's work; but there is one point which we cannot forbear noticing in connection with American railways; and that is, how it happens there are any railways at all in that country to write about—how any one can be found to spend money on their construction ? The author observes (p. 5), that it is worthy of remark that“ in the United States a large proportion of the capital invested in railways has proved hitherto wholly unproductive, and much of it has already proved a hopeless luss, and a very small proportion of the whole can be said to have been at all remunerative.” Great Britain and Ireland can unfortunately produce some instances, we believe, where a railway is unproductive; and occasionally ordinary shareholders have received no dividend, and many instances of a 10 per cent. dividend dwindling to a 4 per cent. might be recorded—but as a rule, English railways pay, and are believed to be solvent. After comparing the railway facts of the two countries, we are strongly inclined to agree with the learned judge, that “it is difficult to account for the difference in results without suspecting there is something wrong somewhere." author is led to make this remark in considering a case in America, in which was discussed the right of legislative control over private corporations, whose functions are essentially public, like those of banks and railways. He is himself in favour of control within reasonable limits, and under proper restrictions. That such is imperatively demanded in America, seems to us, we confess, obvious : that it might be with advantage extended in England, is also, we believe, the better opinion.
In 1857, the United Kingdom possessed upwards of 8000 miles of iron road. In 1851, the United States had created double this mileage and as much again was in progress. In the United Kingdom these works had cost upwards of 300 million sterling ; in the United States they had spent about half this sum. So they had half our capital, and more than double our mileage, and yet the companies are mostly insolvent. Now the English debenture and preference stock is said to pry an average of 5 per cent., and ordinary stock 3 per cent. Most of the European railways are also highly remunerative, returning from 7 to 20 per cent. Supervision, without undue interference, is assuredly requisite for the protection of shareholders. No one knows this better than the English lawyer-whether solicitor or counsel—who has had to watch the manquvres of directors and their agents in railway proceedings.
A Treatise on the Construction of the Statute of Frauds as in Force
in England and the United States. By Causten Browne, Esq., Counsellor-at-Law. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1857.
WHETHER it be true or no that every line of this statute is “ worth a subsidy," as Lord Nottingham used to say, is open to discussion. The late John William Smith in his “ Law of Contract” has observed, that there is no doubt as to every line having cost a subsidy in litigation. The question has recently been raised anew by able thinkers, whether the enactment has advanced justice, or whether its successful operation in preventing “many fraudulent practices, which are commonly endeavoured to be upheld by perjury and subornation of perjury,” has not been counterbalanced in certain directions by its effect in frustrating fair claims and maintaining dishonest defences.
The jurisprudence of America, however, has retained the enactment; and it is of equal importance there as it has been and is with
Mr. Browne, the American writer on jurisprudence, has formed an opinion in favour of the beneficial effect of the statute. “In estimating the value of this enactment, the important question is, not whether the statute has in its practical working let in as much perjury as it has excluded, for no strictness of legislation can bar out from a court of justice the man who deliberately purposes to commit perjury; but it is whether, in the average of large experience since the statute was enacted, the requisition of written testimony in certain cases has not materially seryed to secure the property of men against illegal and groundless claims. That it has done so will scarcely be disputed, and to the profound practical wisdom with which it was conceived to this end, the most enlightened judges and jurists bave at all times borne emphatic testimony.
“Nevertheless it cannot be said to have been judicially administered with a firm hand and in a consistent spirit. Within a few years after its enactment, and before the generation of its framers had passed away, we find the courts admitting exceptions and distinctions as to its application, and forcing upon it constructions tending to restrict its beneficial operation. In later days there has been evinced, on the whole, a disposition to return to a closer interpretation of its provisions ; but even now there are doctrines too firmly settled by. precedent to be overthrown, which, from their very inconsistency with the spirit of the statute, lead continually to great embarrassment in its administration."
Embarrassment, however, was in the first instance caused by the opportunity afforded for divers interpretation of the meaning of the statute, through laxity in the language employed therein; for in truth, the composition of the Statute of Frauds, however excellent certain of its provisions may be, proves that modern draftsmen bave not the exclusive right to be considered imperfect in their art.
In the 29th year of the reign of Charles II. even, we have an instance of an ill-drawn bill, turned into a suit-provoking statute. The difficulty which has attended the exposition of the statute, results mainly from the imperfect language employed by them who framed it.
• The pro