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As regards the rest of the community, there were still villeins attached to the soil of a particular manor or to a particular lord-villeins "in gross" and villeins “regardant.” Magna Charta says that a villein was only to be amerced (i. e., fined) "saving his wainage"--i. e., saving his cart or waggon-and a liberal interpretation of this provision might read that, however heavy a fine was imposed, the tools of the trade of the unfortunate man were not to be touched. Lord Coke, however, writing about 400 years later, says that the object of the provision was to insure that the lord might obtain his proper work from the villein, whose work, such as carting manure, could only properly be done with a waggon, and that if the waggon had been seized by the villein would have had to cart the manure on his back. It would seem that the villein's lot “was not a happy one." Magna Charta is, therefore, merely a statement of miscellaneous customs which are expressed in brief and elliptical language which it is not easy even for the legal historian to comprehend today. In the events which led up to the granting of the charter, John's sins had played a great part. They were many. Amongst other things, he had broken the laws and had inflicted private injuries upon his subjects (for instance, he is said to have had designs against the wife of one of the barons-Eustace de Vesci); he had angered the Church, a powerful body in those days, owning one-third of the possessions of the realm; and, above all, he had twice ceded the kingdom to the Pope. The first charter by which this last act was done is worth quoting: "Therefore, not by the violence of command, neither by the compulsion of fear, but of our voluntary act as conferred of in the common council of our barons (sic), we have freely given unto God and his Holy Apostles Peter and Paul and our Mother, the Holy Church of Rome, and our Lord Pope Innocent, with his catholic successors, the whole kingdom of England and the whole kingdom of Ireland, with all the rights and extents of them, for the remission of all our sins and all those of our ancestors, as well for the living as for the dead and therefore, henceforth, from him and the Church of Rome, we do, as it were secondarily, receive and hold them, in the presence of the learned Pandulphus, our Lord the Pope's sub-deacon and familiar friend." The was in 1212. In 1214 John, in order to sanctify his person and protect his property from attack, "took upon him the cross" and vowed an expedition to the Holy Land-i, e., declared a crusade. This noble act failing to appease his subjects. John sent letters to the Pope to ask his intercession, and the Pope sent back letters to the barons urging them to make their request with reverence. These letters, however, did not reach the barons until after Easter, at which date the King had promised an answer to their demands.. No answer being forthcoming, the barons assembled at Stamford in Lincolnshire and marched to Brackley in Northamptonshire, the King being at that time at Oxford. On the 5th May the barons assembled at Wallingford, disclaimed all allegiance to the King, and were absolved from their oath of fealty by a canon of Durham. They then carried out their threat of attacking the King's castles, some of which they seized, and they took possession of London by private agreement with the citizens. The King was at Odiham in Hampshire with only seven lords supporting him. The result was a conference which ended in the signing of Magna Charta (or, rather, articles from which Magna Charta was subsequently drafted) on the 15th June at Runemede, near Staines.
The charter contains sixty-three short clauses, dealing with subjects of all kinds. The following are a few of its provisions: The Church shall be free; a debt to a Jew is to pay no interest while the heir is under age; the Court of Common Pleas is to be held at a fixed place; weirs are to be removed from the Thames and Medway (i, e., because they interfere with free fishing); no justiciaries shall be made except of such as know the
law of the land; weights and measures are to be standardized; all foreign knights, crossbowmen and stipendiary soldiers (i. e., foreign mercenary troops) are to be removed after the conclusion of peace; merchants are to have free entry and departure from the kingdom, and in time of war foreign merchants are to be detained and treated in accordance with the treatment given to our merchants. Some of the most important clauses deal with feudal rights. The principle of inheritance of land was by no means fully settled, and it was usual for the heir to pay a fine (called a relief) upon inheriting his ancestor's land; the lord had charge of infant heirs and their lands (which afforded an excellent means of profit to the lord); the lord could dispose of an infant heir in marriage; license from the lord to marry was necessary in the case of a female tenant; a widow was sometimes compelled to marry again in order that the lord might get the fine which he could claim upon the marriage of a female tenant. All these points and others were dealt with. Clauses 38, 39 and 40 may be summarized by saying that they insure to every free man the free course of justice by the legal judgment of his peers or the law of the land. “Peer" originally meant tenant to the same lord. There was no jury system as at present known, but if the accused swore to his own innocence and was able to get eleven neighbors to support him by their oaths, he was acquitted. There were clauses remitting the harshness of the Forest Laws against hunting. As security for keeping the charter, the barons were to elect twenty-five of their number, who were to cause it provisions to be kept, and, if any person should complain to any four of them, these four might petition the King for redress, and, if redress was not obtained, the twenty-five barons "with the whole community” might “distress and harass" the King “by all ways in which they are able, by taking our castles and any other means," saving harmless the person of the King and Queen and their children, until redress was obtained. In fact, as further security, the barons took possession of the Tower and the City of London,
The granting of the Great Charter was a sore blow to King John. Holinshed describes the effect upon the King in the following words: “The King was right sorrowful in his heart, cursed his mother that bare him, the house that he was borne, and the paps that gave him sucke, wishing that he had received death by violence of sword or knife instead of natural nourishment; he whetted his teeth, he did bite now on one staff and now on another as he walked and oft broke the same in pieces when he had done, and with such disordered behavior and furious gestures he uttered his grief." King John died not long after at Newark.20
SOME RECENT AUTOMOBILE LAW.-In Quackenbush v. Ford Motor Co..21 lately decided by the Supreme Court of New York, it was decided that an automobile manufacturer who constructs an automobile hand brake of inferior materials, and who improperly assembles the parts of the car, is liable to a purchaser of the car from one who had purchased it from the manufacturer, for injuries to the car caused by the defective equipment and negligent assembling. The decision confirms the ruling of the same court in an earlier case holding that "an automobile manufacturer owes a duty to all purchasers of its machines to make a reasonable inspection and
20 139 L. T. 361 (Eng).
21 153 N. Y. S. 131.
test to ascertain whether the wheels purchased by it are reasonably fit for the purposes for which it uses them, and upon failure to exercise such care it is responsible for any defect which would have been discovered.22 The Court says:
"A modern automobile, properly equipped with brakes and assembled in harmony with the plans underlying the construction, is not inherently a dangerous machine. In the hands of a reasonably intelligent and careful operator it involves no greater hazards to the public than a team of horses attached to a wagon. But this theoretically safe machine becomes inherently unsafe when it is improperly assembled or when the brakes are constructed of materials which will not stand the necessary strain upon them; such an automobile, designed for use upon the highways (and this court may take judicial notice of the use to which such vehicles are commonly put), is a menace to the safety of the public, and it devolves the duty upon the manufacturer to use proper materials and to use due care in the assembling of such materials in the completed machine, and the character of the injuries resulting from defective materials and construction has nothing to do with the question of the manufacturer's duty. ... The manufacturer had no more right to send out a car with a brake which was not properly tested than he had to send out a car with a wheel which was not up to the standard, as in the case of McPherson v. Buick Motor Co. (153 App. Div., 474, 138 N. Y. Supp., 224; id., 160 App. Div., 55, 145 N. Y. Supp., 462).) Having disregarded this duty to the public in general, the purchaser, the manufacturer is liable for the injury growing out of such negligence, whether such injury be to the person or the property of the purchaser, although the vehicle was not purchased directly from the manufacturer, but from an agent to whom it was sold.”
The doctrine of these two cases has been, however, disapproved by a majority of the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 23 where it was decided that a manufacturer of automobiles. which purchased the wheels used on its automobiles, was not liable to an injured person who purchased an automobile manufactured by it from a dealer, and who had no contractual relations with it, for its negligent failure to discover that one of the wheels was defective, since, while one who manufactures articles inherently dangerous is liable to third parties injured by such articles, unless he exercises reasonable care, one who manufactures articles dangerous only if defectively made is not liable to third parties for injuries, except in case of willful injury or fraud. Dissenting from the decisions of the majority of the Court, Judge Cox said:
"If the law, as stated in the prevailing opinion, be sustained, the owner of an automobile entirely free from fault may be injured for life by the collapse of a decayed wheel occurring a few months after its purchase, and be absolutely without redress. It is, I think, doubtful whether, in the circumstances disclosed, an action can be brought to a successful termination against the Pennsylvania company where the wheel was manufactured. If this be so it follows that an injury may be occasioned by the grossest negligence and no one be legally responsible. Such a situation would, it seems to me, be a reproach to our jurisprudence.
22 McPherson v. Buick Motor Co. post.
23 Cadillac Motor Car Co. v. Johnson, 221 Fed. 801.
“The principles of law invoked by the defendant had their origin many years ago, when such a delicately organized machine as the modern automobile was unknown. Rules applicable to stage coaches and farm imple. ments become archaic when applied to a machine which is capable of running with safety at the rate of 50 miles an hour. I think the law as it exists today makes the manufacturer liable if he sells such a machine under a direct or implied warranty that he has made, or thoroughly inspected every part of the machine, and it goes to pieces because of rotten material in one of its most vital parts, which the manufacturer never examined or tested in any way. If, however, the law be insufficient to provide a remedy for such negligence, it is time that the law should be changed. 'New occasions teach new duties;' situations never dreamed of 20 years ago are now of almost daily occurrence.
"The law should be construed to cover the conditions produced by a new and dangerous industry, and should provide redress for such injuries as the plaintiff has sustained. My own judgment is, considering the dangers to be encountered from passenger automobiles, that the manufacturer is under an implied obligation to build such cars of materials capable of doing the work required of them. He may purchase the parts of makers of high reputation, but this does not absolve him from the obligation of a personal inspection, which at least will discover obvious defects, such as decayed and 'dozy' spokes. If it be impossible for the manufacturer to inspect the wheels at his own place of business he should have a representative skilled in the business at the wheel factory to make such inspection. In other words, where the lives and limbs of human beings are at stake it is not enough for the manufacturer to assert that he bought the wheels which collapsed four months after it was sold from a reputable maker and thought it was made of sound material. Such an excuse might be sufficient in the case of a farm wagon or a horse-drawn vehicle of any kind, but in my opinion it is wholly insufficient in the case of a wagon propelled by gasoline which is capable of making fifty miles an hour. What would be regarded as sufficient care in the former case might be gross negligence in the latter. The ultimate question is, can a manufacturer of motor cars escape liability for an injury occasioned by a grossly defective wheel by proving that he purchased the wheel from a reputable manufacturer? I think this question must be answered in the negative."
As the courts have without exception applied a strict measure of responsibility to corporations using or furnishing the dangerous element of electricity we agree with the New York Law Journal that the decisions of the New York Supreme Court and the dissenting opinion of Judge Coxe indicate the capacity of the common law to deal with new situations and conditions according to their essential necessities.
In Luckett v. Reighard,24 in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania last year, a judgment was affirmed for damages for personal injuries sustained through the negligent operation of an automobile. The owner was in the habit of operating his own car, but he kept the same at the defendant's garage, and the contention on conflicting evidence was that the defendant, as part of the arrangement between himself and the owner, permitted his employee to take the car from the garage to the owner's home and to return it from the
24 93 A. 773.
owner's home to the garage. Upon the occasion of the accident the machine was being returned to the garage and the defendant, in addition to disclaiming the existence of the relationship of master and servant as to this particular service, further contended that the person acting as chauffeur had so far deviated from the direct route from the owner's house to the garage that the employee was acting outside the scope of his employment. Said the Court:
“We think the evidence was sufficient to show that the machine was being operated by the defendant's servant at the time the plaintiff was injured. It is conceded that Schmeltz's machine, which collided with the plaintiff, was stored at the defendant's garage. The witnesses disagree as to the terms of the contract between Schmeltz and the defendant by which the latter was to store the machine. The question was submitted to the jury, and they found in effect that the defendant was not only to store the machine, but was to furnish an employee to run the machine between the garage and Schmeltz's home. While the employee was performing this duty, especially in the absence of the owner, he was manifestly not the servant of Schmeltz, but of the defendant, who employed him and paid him for the service. He was under the defendant's control and was subject to his orders and directions. When the machine was being returned to the garage from the Schmeltz residence by the employee on the night of the accident it was as much in the custody of the defendant as when it was stored in the garage. While the employee, therefore, was operating the machine between those two places he was doing so in furtherance of the business of his employer, who was responsible for his acts. If it were the duty of a night watchman at a garage, says the Court in Firemen's Fund Insurance Co. v. Schreiber (150 Wis., 42, 135 N. W., 507, 45 L. R. A., N. S., 314, 326, Ann. Cas. 1913E, 823), to deliver a customer's machine to him at his house upon call therefor, and in responding to such a call he carelessly or wantonly injured the machine, the wrong would be one within the scope of his employment."
In Reilly v. Connable25 the New York Court of Appeals holds that the owner of an automobile is not liable for an accident caused by his chauffeur while the latter was driving the machine on an errand for himself without the knowledge of the owner, though he had frequently used it in doing errands for himself without asking for or receiving express consent, and the owner had not forbidden such use.
In Slotower v. Clark26 the Missouri Court of Appeals decided that where defendant, after being driven to church by his chauffeur, directed the chauffeur to go to a building west from the church and get his son and then return to the church to take the defendant home, but instead the chauffeur went east to collect a debt owing to him, and in returning the machine injured plaintiff, defendant could not escape liability on the ground that the chauffeur was not within the scope of his employment.
In Neubrand v. Kraft27 the Supreme Court of Iowa ruled that where a garage keeper let his automobile to his codefendant, al
25 N. Y. Law Jour., Apr. 28, 1915 27 151 N. W. 455. 26 174 S. W. 148.