« PreviousContinue »
that on the very threshold, our author, for his only illustration of a legal right, chooses, without any warning to the student, one which does not exist by the law of England, though it did by that of Rome :-"If I agree to sell my horse to my neighbour for £20, and, he having paid into my hands the £20 so agreed on, I then refuse to deliver to him the horse, the law will compel me.”? In the next page is something yet more startling :-“ Law is a rule of action prescribed by some superior, and which the inferior is compelled to obey." Very well : but, if so, it follows that the laws of nature, which are mere fixed sequences of events, are only called so improperly, as all have adınitted who define la :v in that
We are amazed, then, to read an “example," "minutely testing the uccuracy of the definition,” that if one weight draws up another by a string passing over a pulley, it is the superior which the other and smaller weight obeys. “Make them
“ equal, and they will remain at rest. There is no longer any superior, and the rule of action is gone." So Cambridge has lived to learn that there are no laws of equilibrium, and that statics are no longer a science !
It is disagreeable to condemn; but when a book lays claim to be a manual for youth, the vast importance of preserving the atter from confidence in an erring guide, must overbear all other considerations. Lest, therefore, it should be thought that in the technical part of the work Dr. Leapingwell is sounder than in the philosophical, it will be necessary to make a few more citations. Thus, jus singulare is said to be called also privilegium."
The tria verba are explained as follows: « Do, Dico, Addico. Dabat, the prætor granted petitions to sue and to plead. Dicebat viam in vindiciis, he determined what form of action the plaintiff should adopt (sic). Aldicebat, he gave judgment:"4 in which last interpretation, if an explanation be possible not totally wrong in spirit, the letter certainly is indefensible. And, besides the mistakes, how much of the meaning of the tria verba is here even attempted to be covered?
4 P. 29.
“The edictum perpetuum was called the jus honorarium, being chiefly derived from the album of the prætor Honoratus.”' !)..
« If the slave were under thirty years of age (when manumitted), he only became a Latinus Junianus. But a Latinus might be raised to the privileges of a full citizen if his master afterwards manumitted him apud consilium, justa causâ probatâ et adprobatâ," a citing Gaius, i. 18; a passage we should have thought by no means difficult to translate, and which simply describes the first manumission under the lex Ælia Sentia. The iteratio, or second manumission, mentioned in the third title of the long fragment of Ulpian, did not apply to those who were under thirty when first manumitted, and was not made apud consilium, but in any of the three regular modes, per vindictam, per censum, or per testamentum. These will be sufficient instances of the great blunders; but we must also remark that a want of acquaintance is shewn with the best modern learning on the subject, though less than might have been expected from the meagre list of authors cited, because, as we gather both from the hint in the preface and from comparing several passages, the author has been to a considerable extent guided by the valuable work of Dr. Colquhoun, in which 50 many of the results of that learning are collected. One specimen of adherenoe to exploded error may be mentioned, because if, as is likely, the author had seen the truth in Colquhoun, it will furnish at the same time an instance of that besetting sin of compendiums, the preference of short statements to long ones, cæteris imparibus: we mean the assertion of a plena pubertus at 18, when the Romans knew no such name, and there was really nothing more, after the true and only pubertas of 14, than the gradual accession of various liabilities, which, as well as the ages when they respectively arose, require to be severally mentioned.
It must then be confessed that a good English work on the Roman law, for beginners, is still a desideratum; and we cannot
1 P. 30.
· P. 42.
8 P. 35.
better close this article than by pointing out to those who may be competent to supply it, how great a reward may be reaped in a seemingly humble field. For, were such a work executed as it should be, it would bear no mean part in impressing on the next generation of English lawyers those clear and accurate juristic ideas, the want of which is perhaps a greater obstacle to the simplification and amelioration of our laws, than any inherent difficulty in the case, or than the opposition of any prejudice or any interest.
PAPERS OF THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING THE
AMENDMENT OF THE LAW.
I.—ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COUNCIL, FOR THE SESSION
1858.9. (Read at the Annual Meeting, June 25, 1859.) In presenting their Sixteenth Annual Report, the Council have to express their regret that the period which has elapsed since the date of their last Report has not been favourable to the progress of Law Amendment, either in the way of measures passed by the legislature, or in respect of popular feeling on the subject. The circumstances which have prevented any important measure being carried in the legislature are well known, and need not be further adverted to. With regard to popular feeling on the subject, the Council have found that during the greater part of the present session of the Society, the state of parties at home and of the foreign relations of the country, the dissolution of Parliament, the change of ministry, and the war now raging in Italy, have tended greatly to divert the attention of the community from the objects which this Association has in view. Notwithstanding, however, the occupation of the public mind with more exciting subjects, the Society has proceeded in its inquiries into the various questions that have been brought before it; and, except during a short period immediately following the dissolution of Parliament, general meetings have been regularly held, while committees have sat on several subjects of much interest and importance.
UNANIMITY OF JURIES.
The first question which came before the Society during the present session, related to a point of great practical momentviz., the unanimity of juries. During the last few years the question now referred to had begun to excite considerable attention, both amongst the public and in the profession. The increased intelligence of the classes from which jurors are taken ; the higher moral tone, with regard to every matter of public duty, which now pervades the community; the change in the rules of evidence relating to interested witnesses and parties, which has left less to the mere conjecture of juries; and the general unwillingness of men at the present day to acquiesce in mere fictions and other similar contrivances of bygone times-have led to an increase in the number of cases in which jurors have been unable to agree on their verdict, and have caused the general question to be raised as to whether the present rule ought to be retained. The matter having been brought before the Society by Mr. Serjeant Woolrych, in a paper setting forth the advantages of unanimity, was referred to a committee, in which were several gentlemen of great experience both in civil and criminal trials. The committee reported in favour of retaining the present system in criminal cases, the principle of our law being that, before any man is convicted of a crime, such evidence should be adduced as will satisfy the minds of twelve jurors; but, with regard to civil cases, the committee were so equally divided that they resolved not to propose any resolution, or to report any definite opinion to the Society, but to leave the important question in the hands of members. When the report came on for discussion, great diversity of opinion was found to exist amongst members on the subject of the unanimity of juries in civil trials ; and, after the matter had been considered at two meetings, it was finally resolved simply to receive the report of the committee. In
adopting this course, it appears to the Council that the Society exercised a sound discretion, as the question, looking to the greatness of the change proposed, can scarcely, at the present moment, be considered as ripe for decision; and they are strengthened in this view by the fate, in the House of Lords, of the bill which the present Lord Chancellor introduced, for abolishing the rule requiring unanimity in civil trials. But, whatever may be the difficulties connected with the question of unanimity, there is one restriction relating to juries which the Council would recommend should at once be abolished—viz., the denial of meat, drink, and fire to juries who have retired to consider their verdict--a restriction opposed to all humane feeling and all enlightened reason. Another improvement which might be safely adopted would be to provide that, after deliberation for a certain number of hours, the jury, if at the end of that time they had not agreed on their verdict, should be discharged; and that upon such discharge the cause might be tried again as if no such abortive trial had taken place.
CONCENTRATION OF COURTS. The next important subject which occupied the attention of the society, was the expediency of concentrating the courts of Common Law and Equity under one roof in the vicinity of the Inns of Court. At an early period of the session a committee was appointed to consider the subject. From the great importance of the matter with reference to the interests of suitors, and from its obvious connection with the due administration of justice, the society considered that the subject fairly came within the scope of its inquiries, and that the question had much more important bearings than the mere convenience of practitioners. The committee reported in favour of placing the whole of the superior courts and their offices in one locality ; and in l'espect to the locality they thought that the site between Careystreet and the Strand, pointed out by Sir Charles Barry in his
1 The bill was lost on the second reading; when there appeared for the bill, 7 ; against it, 23.