Slike strani
PDF
ePub

and parts of others, as the disembowelling of traitors, and the izominious burial of suicides on the highway, rescinded; corruption of blood has been limited to treason and murder; the barkarous exhibition of appeals in treason, murder, and felony, has been suppressed, and the trial by battle in civil suits; lastly, provision bas been made for defraying the expenses of prosecution, both in cases of misdemeanour and felony; and the perempLiry estreating of recognizances, which often occasioned hardship to individuals, has been placed under suitable restraint.

To the conclusion is added a Dictionary of Law Terms, Maxims, Acts of Parliament, and Judicial Antiquities, which could not be properly incorporated into the body of the work, yet it was necessary to include them, to comprise an entire and intelligible Digest of the Laws of England.

The public is so accustomed to bulky works on law, that a doubt may naturally arise of my ability adequately to treat the various subjects of the present volume in so small a compass.

On this point I sill endeavour to satisfy the reader. Of the mechanical art employed, a glance at the smallness of the type and the closeDes of the pages will suffice; of the intellectual craft, a little more explanation may be requisite.

It has often been remarked into how small a compass human knowledge migbt be compressed, by confining it to a simple enunciation of facts and principles. It occurred to me that this mode e procedure might be applied, with peculiar advantage, to a Digest of the English Laws, and it is by rigorously adhering to it I have been enabled to accomplish the present undertaking. My aim, throughout, has been to concentrate, almost in an aphoristic form, facts and legal points only, exhibit them in popular language, under such arrangement and classification as would afford the readiest facility for turning to and obtaining the information Decessary to the immediate object of research.

I will not conceal the design occurred to me from remarking the d.fects of the popular treatises on law already extant, and a con

viction (perhaps a vain one) that I could produce something better. The publications bearing any analogy to the present are chiefly abridgments of Sir William Blackstone, which, from alterations in the Statute Book and the accumulating decisions of the Courts, have been rendered comparatively useless. It is true, attempts have been made to supply their defects, by publishing new editions, consisting, for the most part, of one or two additional sheets or notes, so that a great portion of the text retains laws and determinations that have long ceased to be English law.

Of the omissions in works of this description one instance may suffice. The law of copyright, not only from the pecuniary value of literary productions, but the number of persons interested therein, has become of the utmost importance ; yet, in two publications of the nature alluded to, there is not the slightest notice of the existence of this species of property, or of the laws by which it is protected.

Since the Peace, the Legislature has been sedulously occupied in revising the Statute Law; much remains to be done, but a great deal has been accomplished. The late Parliament, previous to its dissolution, had repealed, modified, or consolidated upwards of 1,000 statutes. The 3 G. 4, c. 41, repeals upwards of 200 statutes, or parts of statutes, relative to the export and import of merchandise, the commerce of aliens and denizens, the gauging of wine, and other mercantile regulations. The Customs Law consolidates 450 Acts of Parliament into one ; the Jury Act, 30; the Bankrupt Act, 20 ; and the Law for Improving the Administration of Criminal Justice, some 60 or 70. These changes have been carefully attended to; the old laws repealed have been remarked ; and when an act referred only to a particular class, and consequently did not fall within the general nature of the publication, I have indicated the most recent law on the subject, for the convenience of those more especially interested therein.

In analyzing a statute, I have not invariably followed the order

of the statute itself; and framers of acts of parliament do not always adopt the most lucid arrangement, and, consequently, instead of following them from section to section, I have fairly dissected the subject matter, embodying the scattered clauses in separate and distinct sections :-this appeared to me the best method for the general reader, and its utility will be more parti. calarly observable in the digest of the Bankruptcy and Insolvent Laus.

Having thus endeavoured to give the reader an idea of the plan and mode of execution of the work, I have only to solicit indulgence for errors, perbaps inseparable from undertakings of this nature. To those acquainted with the complex and confused state of the English laws, no apology will be requisite, either for sins of caission or commission. And, generally, when defects are discovered, it will be fair to bear in mind the novel plan of the publication, and the many points of superiority it possesses over rtbers of similar character.

J. W.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »