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strongholds of ancient and technical law, has tended constantly towards the protection of woman in her rights of property, and the clearing away from marriage of its ecclesiastical clothing as a sacrament, to leave it in its true form of a civil contract.
In view of the want of recent treatment of the subject, and not forgetting the responsibility of a first book, which prevents future working of what might have been good ground, it is very satisfactory that the present work should have fallen to such competent hands.
The opening chapters contain a careful and learned summary of the origin and nature of dower at common law, with references to early authorities and discussions of some controverted points in its history, both in England and in the various states of the Union, treated with a minute historical fidelity, at once interesting and exceedingly valuable.
In the ensuing chapters, after discussing various collateral questions, such as marriage, alienage, &c., the subject is taken up in a scientific and yet practical manner in all its numerous details. So much more carefully and completely arranged under scientific subdivisions is this work than any other we have seen on the subject, that we think few lawyers will read over the list of headings of the chapters, without surprise at the variety of aspects in which so familiar a subject has been presented.
The style of Mr. Scribner is clear, careful, and unambitious, avoiding the argumentative, and giving his conclusions with unusual conciseness. We have somewhat critically examined the portions of the book relating specially to the law of the states with which we are most familiar, and think very highly of the extent of Mr. Scribner's researches, as well as the conscientiousness and accuracy of his handling. The work is a credit to the profession in America, and will not only at once become the standard text-book on the subject, but leaves little room to invite a rival.
J. T. M.
REPORTS OF CASES DECIDED IN THE SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA. By
BENJAMIN GRANT. Volume III. Philadelphia : John Campbell, 1864. Shp. $4.
The bar of this state is already familiar with Mr. Grant's Reports, and would need nothing farther than the announcement of a new volume; but for the information of the profession out of the state, it may be well to say a few words in explanation of the appearance of a series of reports simultaneously with that bearing the name of the state and yet distinct from it.
The judges of the Supreme Court are compelled by law to write their opinions in erery case, and hitherto they have shown a perhaps commendable spirit of obedience to the will of the legislature.
But the consequence has been, that instead of a merely nominal compliance in cases unimportant to the general enunciation of the law, thus to gain time for more ample justice to cases worthy of it, the court has given to all something like an equality of attention, and from the press of business, from deference to the desires of parties or counsel, or perhaps from a natural tendency to estimate the importance of things by the trouble of performing them, the judges have marked a very large majority of the cases decided by them to be reported.
Hence the reporter, who is limited by law to a certain number of volumes during his term, has always found himself embarrassed by the quantity of material on his hands, and, of necessity, leaves unused a large number of opinions, among which may be some that a greater command of space, or a more mature consideration, might have deemed worthy of insertion. Hence the present series originated. In our opinion the system, like that of nearly all the other states, is very bad; but while the law is so we are pleased to see the work well done, as it is by our present reporter and his co-laborer Mr. Grant. The cases themselves, as we have shown, are of equal authority with those in the regular reports, and Mr. Grant's two previous volumes have always been relied upon and cited by the profession with confidence. The state reporter enjoys the advantage of having the paper-books of counsel, the want of which is sometimes a source of much trouble to Mr. Grant, but the latter has an advantage which we think more than compensates, in the liberty of publishing dissenting opinions, from which the reporter is most absurdly debarred. Mr. Grant's present volume contains a large number of decisions made in bano during the last six or eight years, and some recent ones at Nisi Prius. Among the latter are several very important cases on the Act of 1863, for the removal of causes from state to federal courts (Hodgson vs. Millward, p. 412), and on the constitutionality of the Act of March 3, 1863, commonly called the Conscription Act, some of which, contained in the notes are new, and will be found of great and general interest.
In conclusion, we should not omit to say that Mr. Campbell, already well known to the profession as a dealer in law books, has made his entrance among publishers in a manner that promises to keep up the high reputation of Philadelphia publishers for style and finish of workmanship.
J. T. M.
AMERICAN LAW REGISTER.
LAW REFORMS AND LAW REFORMERS.'
The vast changes which have been effected during the past fifty years in the law, and in the mode of administering the law, in those countries which have adopted the “common law” of England, as the foundation of their jurisprudence, are but little understood by the people generally, and but poorly appreciated by the profession which is best acquainted with them. Indeed, a considerable number of lawyers (though rapidly decreasing) look back with regret upon the law as it was, and can see nothing in the reforms of modern days but in the language of a late judge) “ the crude innovations of conceited pretension.” We purpose, in a brief article, to review the progress of law reform during the present century, and to sketch the character and labors of one or two of the principal law reformers.
Law reform, as a special department of thought and labor, seems clearly to have owed its origin to Jeremy Bentham. There may have been many before him who saw the gross defects of the common law as plainly as he did-there may have been soine who made their censures public but there were none who made any impression upon the public mind, and none who have left any
We publish the following article for its interest as an account of the origin and progress of codification in legal practice, without expressing any opinion in respect to the value of the changes which are detailed.--Eds. Am. Law Reg. Vol. XII.-33
traces of their labors in accomplished reforms, or in any broad and philosophic statement of the vices of the system. The change in the oral proceedings from French to English, the subsequent reduction of writs and pleadings from Latin into English, the statutes of jeofails, of assigning breaches, of double pleas, &c., were not the fruit of any general theory of reform, but originated in the burden of particular evils, so preposterous and so onerous, that as soon as they were fairly submitted to a legislature of laymen, their common sense revolted, and, in spite of lawyers, they swept the odious things away.
At the beginning of this century, the criminal law of England was contained in a multitude of uncouth statutes, nowhere reliably collected together, of Draconian severity, of gross inconsistency, and, of course, of little effect in staying the progress of crime. The simple story of poor Mary Jones is enough to picture the whole. This unhappy girl, married, and a mother, at eighteen years of age; robbed of her husband by a press-gang, who forced him into the navy, to be paid twelve cents per day; starving in the streets, and made desperate by the sufferings of the child at her breast, snatched up a piece of muslin, which the shopkeeper, after stretching his conscience to the utmost, swore to be worth a little over a dollar. Her heart failed her, and she laid the stolen goods back again. But she had been seen, and was arrested, tried, sentenced, and hung, leaving a child not a year old behind her.
The civil department of the law might, however, be supposed to be more humane and reasonable. But it was far indeed from being so. Imprisonment for debt was the almost invariable rule, and though the spirit of « innovating and conceited pretension” had so far despised « the wisdom of our ancestors' as to compel creditors to pay sixty cents per week for the support of pauper debtors, instead of leaving them to “starve in the name of God,” as a pious judge congratulated himself was the rule at an earlier day (Dive vs. Maningham, 1 Plowd. 68), yet thousands of unfortunate and honest men lay entombed for years on this wretched pittance, and begging by turns beneath a grating, from the passers-by. Indeed, the public, more charitable than their laws, maintained for many
years a society for the relief of poor and honest debtors, cancelling the debts of as many of that class who had been confined for several years, for sums less than $100, as the subscriptions would allow. Can any comment upon such a fact be necessary ?
The whole system of judicial procedure was obstructive to justice. The expenses were ruinous. The delays, in Chancery particularly, were almost incredible. A suit was an heir-loom in the family of a solicitor. The law of evidence was admirably contrived to shut out the truth. The pleadings and practice of the courts were absurdly technical and intricate. Of the three great courts, in which alone common law suits of any moment could be brought, one was a shelf on which dull and stupid judges were laid out of sight, to bungle over revenue cases, and such other matters as clients might—unhappily for themselves—submit to them; and another was closed against all but about a dozen advocates. Real estate was tied up with all manner of injurious restrictions. Trade was hampered by endless varieties of oppressive regulations. Married women had scarcely any rights that the law would respect; poor wives, especially, had no protection outside of the police courts. And, the native energy and virtue of the people having secured to them, in spite of all these abominations, some degree of happiness, though vastly less than they have now, this system was unanimously pronounced to be the perfection of human reason.
Into the midst of such a state of the law-many of the worst details of which we are compelled to leave unmentioned—was born a man who ventured first to doubt, and finally to deny, with emphasis, the wisdom of the legal system which he found in existence. This man was Jeremy Bentham.
This most distinguished of English Law Reformers was born in London in 1748. His father and grandfather were reputable attorneys in London, and the former had accumulated a considerable fortune by his professional labors. Bentham was distinguished by remarkable precocity: at three years old it is said he found pleasure in reading Rapin's History of England : before attaining the age of seven he had made respectable progress in the study of Latin and French. At the age of twelve he was entered as a com