Imatges de pàgina

Population. Sq. Miles. County. (Thousando.) (Hundreds.)

Court Town.. Westmoreland

52 .... 7 ... Kendal Wilts (2)

..226.. 13 Salisbury

Trowbridge Worcester

188 7

Worcester Yorkshire, North Riding (2) 187 ....21 .... Whitby ...


Population, (Thousaada.)


8! 10 17 15 85

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A Letter to the Right Honourable Robert Peel, respecting the

English Law of Inheritance, &c. By Thomas Swinburne, A. M., of St. John's College, Cambridge, and of Lincoln's Inn; Author of “ A Thorough Elucidation of the Doctrine of Descents ;" The true Development of the Binomial Theorem, &c. 8vo. pp. 64. London, 1827.

Mr. Swinburne informs Mr. Peel (pp. 8–9), that at the commencement of his legal studies he was “ stricken with the deficiency of the exposition” of the Doctrine of Descents ;-an elliptical mode of expression, which means, that he was síricken with a deficiency of the faculty of expounding the doctrine. Thus qualified, he, in happy hour, set about his Thorough Elucidadation," of which the present pamphlet is, for the most part, an abridgment; following the approved example of the man that was born blind, who groped his way into the Professor's chair, to lecture upon colours. a Gentlemen,” said the blind man,

" I am,

of all persons, the fittest to elucidate this matter. You, that see, are biassed and led astray by those treacherous guides, your external organs ; you estimate colours superficially, and according to outward appearances; you talk of light, and refracțed rays, and such absurdities. I am uninfluenced by any of these delusive prepossessions; though I am blind, yet is the eye of my mind strong and searching, and penetrates the secrets of nature, the eternal and mysterious relations of things.”—In the same philosophical spirit Mr. Swinburne reproves the learned profession for looking to history, to the feudal law, and to positive institution for a key to our system of descents, the principles of which, he assures Mr. Peel, are drawn from the source of

pure reason." “ And here,” says he, " it will be proper to mention a circumstance hitherto omitted, that it is, and long has been, a fashion with lawyers to consider our law of descents (and, indeed, every other branch of our municipal law) as the creature of positive institution. Let me rebul the calumny. The eye of the mind was strong within the heads of our ancestors; they sought and saw the course of reason, and had boldness enough to follow it without shrinking; they abhorred to turn into the paths of positive institution. Positive institution! it is a rock, not a rock which our ancestors have chosen to build the law upon, but a rock of danger, which, if they have once touched on it, they have ever after taken care to avoid.” p. 10.

But, before we proceed any farther with this "pure reason,' the reader must be informed of the occasion which professedly gave birth to the present pamphlet. In all the works which have appeared in the course of the recent discussion upon the laws of Real Property, produced by the able Observations of Mr. Humphreys, the exclusion of the half-blood and of the ascending line from inheritance have been mercilessly condemned; even those writers who are the most devoted in their attachment to the intricacies and bewildering jargon of the law of Real Property, have renounced these rules of exclusion, as too monstrous for prejudice itself to advocate. , Now it so happens, that these are the very points in which Mr. Swinburne discovers the most surpassing beauty. Finding, however, as he himself naively expresses it, that “ to direct his exertions to the profession generally would be useless; because his views have already been before them upwards of two years, without having yet attracted any portion of their attention," he addresses himself to Mr. Peel; cncouraged by the circumstance of that Right Honourable Gentleman having, once upon a time, filled up a gap in a speech with some vapid common-place, about the inexpediency of interfering with ancient institutions and sacred usages.

The reader must also bear in mind, that Mr. Swinburne has favoured the world with · The True Development of the Binomial Theorem';' and


that the eye of his mind is essentially mathematical. We think, indeed, that we can discern in him the purpose of applying exact science, or, as he terms it, “one of God's own sciences,” to jurisprudence generally, and working out all the complicated legal problems by algebra. Certain it is that he has converted the law of inheritance into a kind of binomial theorem, the integral terms of which are issue and uncle. He does not expressly state this, but it is sufficiently obvious from a variety of passages in his • Thorough Elucidation, which he has copied with evident satisfaction into the present work. The principle of the law of descents is thus laid down :-" The law, then, in the descending line, is continually looking for issue, issue, issue, &c. and in the ascending or collateral line for uncle, uncle, uncle, &c. Whether any uncle exist or not, the estate vests in the uncular blood. Let us suppose no uncle to exist. What must be done? We must take the bloud nearest to this uncular blood." pp: 25, 26.

If we wish, therefore, to give an uncle ten thousand a-year by algebra, or, in other words, adopting Mr. Swinburne’s binomial theorem, to raise an uncle to the ten-thousand-a-year-power, the calculation will stand thus :

ten-thousand-a-year ten-thousand-a-year uncle issue



issue + ten-thousand-a-year x &c. Should this be somewhat unintelligible to our readers, we beg to refer them to Mr. Swinburne's • Thorough Elucidation,' and • True Development,' for farther information upon the subject; as, at present, we have only space for some splendid and wellmerited eulogies upon our law, extracted from the pamphlet before us:

“ A little while back we were speaking of astronomy. In the second century astronomers got hold of one of these truth-seeming errors, made it their fundamental notion, and, though it involved them in inextricable difficulties, they nevertheless did not loose it again till thirteen or fourteen hundred years had elapsed. Nothing is more plain to our ocular perception, than that the earth stands still, and the sun moves round it-no notion so fatal to the understanding and the cultivation of the science of astronomy. Alphonso, the Wise, it is recorded, used to say, that had he been present at the creation of the world, he could have saved the Deity the commission of some absurdities; but in a subsequent age it appeared, as the King himself indeed suspected, that the fault lay not with God, but with man; and that the mechanism of the universe was contrived with all-surpassing excellence of wisdom. So, with our lan of inheritance, there has hardly been a lawyer who has not thought that a more perfect, more self-consistent, and rational system might have been framed ; but as with the structure of the universe, so with our lan

year uncle

of inheritance ; let that law, let our common law in general, be ex. pounded rightly, and one may answer for its proving an all-admirable system, as full as it can hold of philosophy and science.” p. 58.

Mr. Swinburne concludes his pamphlet with the following irresistibly touching appeal:

“ Time, Sir, has left us Westminster Abbey, Canterbury Cathedral, York Minster, and some such other venerable and beautiful specimens of our ancestors' handiwork : time, too, has left us our law of inheritance; one perfect, one admirable specimen of our ancestors' head-work; a matchless piece of human jurisprudence; an unique and all-excellent relic of its kind; constituted almost like one of God's own sciences, so as that it cannot, bear the least alteration without its beauty being deformed, without its symmetry being destroyed, and the connection of its parts being broken up. Shall we, with the meddling finger of innovation, go about to ruin for our forefathers this proud and delicate monument of their wisdom? What they have done, with more than the thought and skill of men, shall we go about to undo and spoil with more than the thoughtlessness and mischievousness of children? I know not. But our law of inheritance has been attacked ; a blind and dangerous zeal is at this moment moving against it in full activity: it looks around to those resources which nature and duty direct to serve it, and finds that the attack comes out of the very quarter which ought ever to have held its defence; in the extremity of its exigence, Sir, it turns to you, knowing that you have ability to avert the threatened outrage ; and trusting that in your love of science it shall find ready means of commending itself to your protection."


Report of the Committee appointed by Members of the Bar of

New Orleans to inquire into the Circumstances of the Sale of the British Vessel called the SPEEDWELL, sold under an Order of a District Court of the State of Louisiana, upon an Attachment for Debt: the Sale having been annulled as fraudulent by a Decision in the English Court of Common Pleas. New Orleans, November, 1827.

This Report is in many points of view curious and interesting. It is novel to find advocates so sensibly alive to the importance of impartial justice being dispensed, and to the consequent dignity of their profession, as to examine in committee the proceedings in a suit carried on in a court of which they are practitioners, when the fairness of the proceedings has been called in question in the court of a foreign country. But the sensitiveness thus evinced is

greatly to the honour of the Louisiana Bar; and it is still more to their honour, that, although the proceedings in their court were condemned in no very measured language, the committee gave way to no vituperation in return, when their investigation satisfied them that the aspersions were unjust. The Report, indeed, is candidly and most temperately drawn up, and it is therefore a pleasure to assist in giving publicity to it, by introducing it into our present publication. But we have an additional motive for transcribing this document, as we conceive it gives a good summary of the law and general practice as to attachments in the United States, a branch of law of which British merchants are daily obliged to avail themselves in their dealings with foreign nations, and yet of which very little is known in this country. The importance, however, of a right understanding of the law of attachment will be best estimated when it is mentioned, that in all parts of civilized America the law of attachment (with some variations as to practice) prevails, with the exception of a few of the United States, and the original British provinces in Canada: even in the Canadian provinces ceded by the French the law of attachment is continued. Indeed, so interwoven with the judicial systems of most foreign states is the practice of attachment, that if arrest on mesne process should be abolished in England, it may deserve consideration, (as it is certainly desirable that the laws of different countries affecting commerce should be assimilated as much as possible,) whether the system of attachment against a debtor's goods should not be introduced into England, the debtor having power to regain his goods by giving bail in the same manner as bail is now given in replevin cases in England.

Report of the Committee, fc. “ The Committee appointed under a resolution adopted at a meeting of the members of the Bar of New Orleans, held on the 7th day of May last, beg leave to report :

“ That at the time of their appointment all the Courts in this city were in Session, and much occupied in bringing to a close the business pending before them, it being but a few weeks preceding their regular adjournment until November; that owing to the absence of one of the Committee, and of several members of the bar from the state during the late epidemic, and the impossibility of having a general meeting of the bar while it prevailed, they have deferred the consideration of the important subject with which they were charged until the present time.

“ The Committee have before them a Newspaper Report of the Case which has been submitted to them, and their remarks will be understood as applicable to that report only.

The Lord Chief Justice of the Cour; of Common Pleas appears to have considered the case relating to the sale of the Brig Speedwell under [in] two points of view: he is stated to have said, that the questions

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