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broken or interrupted, and to prevent also the work from driving out (according to the printer's phrase) to too great a bulk.
Exclusive of the index, there is also annexed to Plan of chrothis work a chronological table of the English sta- nological tatutes, containing a short note of the contents of each act, the pages of this digest where they are to be found, and pointing out also the corresponding or analogous Irish statutes. And a second table is subjoined, in which, e converso, the Irish statutes appear in the first column, and the corresponding or analogous English statutes in the second column, the third column in both tables serving to shew the subject matter of the acts, and the pages of the work where they are abridged or referred to. These tables also point out the duration of such acts as are temporary, or the statutes by which any have been perpetuated.
It is often desirable to know in what year of the Table of the christian era a statute is passed, I have therefore reigns of the added a chronological table of the reigns of the England.
kings of kings of England, from William the conqueror's to his present majesty's, shewing their commencement and duration,
To facilitate the reference to the statutes at large, Table of con a table of the contents of each volume of Ruffhead's tents of the
several voand Pickering's editions of the English statutes, as lumes of the also of the several volumes of the Irish statutes, is statutes. annexed.
The principle upon which I proceeded in abridg- What statutes ing the acts, was to omit no word of value, or which jects of this
are the oba appeared to be at all material to the right under- compilation. standing or construction of them. Words of form merely, or such as may be easily supplied by any intelligent reader, are alone rejected: and in every case where I thought the titles or preambles served to throw any light upon the enacting parts, I have stated them also. It may appear extraordinary or
incredible, that the statute law of England and Ireland should be compressed within the compass of these volumes : but I wish it to be understood, that this compilation is confined to such acts as relate to the general statute law, or what may be called the science of the law. All acts of a local or personal nature are, of course, excluded from this description. Such statutes as concern, peculiarly, particular classes of men, as ecclesiastical persons, their glebes, and glebe-houses, &c. so also those concerning the army
navy, &c. though not altogether omitted, are but briefly stated. I have also taken but a partial or cursory view of the statutes relating to the revenue, which form a distinct and peculiar code in themselves.' Another extensive branch of laws which this work excludes, is that which concerns the external or internal trade of the country : some provisions of these are however occasionally introduced. Many acts which concern the public police or economy are upon the same principle omitted, or but partially noticed : of this description are the statutes concerning gaols and houses of correction, poor-houses, and other such institutions, highways, or roads and bridges, and other objects of municipal regulation. I do not mean to deny their proper utility to the statutes which I have thus omitted, I mean only to say, that, in the eye of a lawyer, they are not of equal importance to be generally known, or such as the members of the profession of the law should be equally familiar with : they either are or should be the subjects of other compilations. As a further reason for taking this circumscribed course, I thought that inasmuch as the primary object of this work was to compare the statute law of England and Ireland, I had pursued the parallel as far as it would be desirable to have it traced. If I am asked what
statutes are within the scope of this work, my answer is, that I have fully abridged above 1200 English and imperial statutes, and about 500 Irish statutes, exclusive of those which are but partially stated; and that by reference to the titles of the several chapters, or the index to the contents, or to the chronological tables, it may be seen what acts this work professes to embrace. But if by some I may be thought to have omitted statutes which I should have introduced, I may be arraigned by others for having abridged several of an obsolete description : Certainly the statutes respecting the proceedings in real actions, and others of this nature, and many also respecting the criminal law, are antiquated or out of use, but they are not repealed; and as they compose a part of the general statute law, and are the foundations upon which the modern structure of our law is built, I have therefore given them a place in this digest : And it may also answer this useful purpose, of bringing them before the view of parliament, to the end that such as do not sort with the condition of the times,” may be either repealed or mo: dified. In rejecting or retaining acts, I have, however, exercised the best judgment of which I was capable.
Another part of the mechanism of this work Distinctions consists in the mode of exhibiting the distinc- between Eng,
lish and Irish tions between the English and Irish statutes. statutes, how For this purpose, in abridging the English statutes, pointed out. where I found any Irish acts in pari materia, then if the variations were not too numerous, or of too great length, they are in general pointed out in side or bottom notes, or by way of observation in the text or body of the work, or otherwise the Irish statutes are also abridged, and brought into juxtaposition with the English statutes upon the same subject, so that the comparison between them may
be easily made, and the distinctions be quickly
ponding, they are referred to as such. Addenda &
I have thus explained the plan and object of
gether free from errors; but I am conscious that
Notwithstanding the great attention I paid to
From this exposition of the plan of this work, it is hoped that it will appear to be not only useful as a comparative view of the English and Irish statutes, for which purpose it was primarily designed, but also as a digest and review of the statutes themselves, or of such as were most important to be brought before the view, and within the reach of the parliament and the public. A general revision of the statute law has been often recommended from the throne, and has been petitioned for by both houses of parliament in England. It has en
gaged The English statutes are distinguished by the letters Eng. the Irish by Ir, and those common to England and Ireland by the letters E. & Le
gaged the labours of successive committees, and has occupied the attention of some of the most distinguished and learned men in England.* In 1650 a committee was named to revise all former statutes and ordinances then in force, and consider as well which were fit to be continued, altered, or repealed, as how the same might be reduced into a compendious way, and exact method, for the more easy and clear understanding of the people. And in 1666 a committee was also appointed to confer with such of the lords, judges, and other persons of the long robe, who had already taken pains and macle progress in perusing the statute laws, and to consider of repealing such former statute laws as they should find necessary to be repealed, and of expedients for reducing all statutes of one nature under such a method and head, as might conduce to the more ready understanding and better execution of such laws. But this great national work was never carried forward to any degree of maturity. If in the reigu of Elizabeth, James I. or at the period of the usurpation or restoration, the undertaking was found too arduous to be accomplished, it will be admitted that it required some courage to encounter, and some fortitude to persevere in a task of a similar nature, at a time when the statutes have so multiplied, and when the accumulated weight of the Irish statutes was also superadded. I have not the vanity to think that these volumes contain such a revision as these great men had contemplated ; but I have some hope that they will furnish materials useful for such a review, and that I have at least smoothened the path, and dimiņished the labours of those who shall follow me in this course, But the difficulty of this undertaking consisted not
• Lord Bacon, Lord Hale, Lord Hobart, &c. &c.