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النشر الإلكتروني

ON THE

LAWS OF ENGLA .

IN FOUR BOOKS.

BY

SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, Knt.

ONE OF THE JUSTICES OF HIS MAJESTY'S COURT OF COMMON PLEAS.

WITH

NOTES SELECTED FROM THE EDITIONS OF ARCHBOLD, CHRISTIAN, COLERIDGE, CHITTY, STEWART,

KERR, AND OTHERS,

BARRON FIELD'S ANALYSIS,

AND

Additional Yotes, and a Life of the Author,

BY

GEORGE SHARSWOOD,

ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA

IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. I.-BOOKS I. & II.

PHILADELPHIA :
J. B. LIPPINCOTT & CO.

B 6315532

1875
Vol

i

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1859, by

CHILDS & PETERSON, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of

Pennsylvania.

PREFACE BY THE AMERICAN

The present edition of the Commentaries of Sir William Blackstone gas been prepared with especial reference to the use of American lawstudents. The main object of the notes, selected and original, has been to correct any statement in itself erroneous, and to explain what might be calculated to mislead. In some cases where the text appeared to pass over important topics, they have been introduced in order to render the book complete as an institute of legal education. Besides the editions of Archbold, Christian, and Chitty, which have been republished in this country, the editor has drawn largely upce the valuable notes of Mr. Justice Coleridge. The late English editions by James Stewart and Robert Malcolm Kerr-in which all the recent alterations by statutes have been referred to and incorporated-have been freely used, and an occasional note will be found from the late abridgment of Blackstone by Samuel Warren; and the attention of the student is especially called to the notes added to the last chapter of the work, on the rise, progress, and gradual improvement of the laws of England, for valuable sketches by Coleridge, John William Smith, Stewart, Warren, and Kerr, of the latest enactments, to which the American editor has ventured to add some remarks upon American jurisprudence. Barron Field's Analysis--a most important aid to the student in the work of self-examination-has been added at the end. On the whole, it is hoped that this edition--the fruit of much care and toil, as much in rejecting (which does not appear) as in adopting (which does)—may meet the approbation of the professiou and the public.

G. S. PPILADELPHIA, June. 1869.

iii

EFACE.

[graphic]

uets contain the substance of a course of iectures on iho igland, which were read by the author in the University of Oxford -15 original plan took its rise in the year 1753; and, notwithstanding the novelty of such an attempt in this age and country, and the prejudices usually conceived against any innovations in the established mode of education, he had the satisfaction to find—and he acknowledges it with a mixture of pride and gratitude—that his endeavours were encouraged and patronized by those, both in the university and out of it, whose good opinion and esteem he was principally desirous to obtain.

The death of Mr. Viner in 1756, and his ample benefactions to the university for promoting the study of the law, produced about two years afterwards a regular and public establishment of what the author had privately undertaken. The knowledge of our laws and constitution was adopted as a liberal science by general academical authority; competent endowments were decreed for the support of a lecturer and the perpetual encouragement of students; and the compiler of the ensuing Commentaries had the honour to be elected the first Vinerian professor.

In this situation he was led, both by duty and inclination, to investigate the elements of the law and the grounds of our civil polity with greater assiduity and attention than many have thought it necessary to do. And yet all who of late years have attended the public administration of justice must be sensible that a masterly acquaintance with the general spirit of laws and principles of universal jurisprudence, combined with an accurate knowledge of our own municipal constitutions, their original, reason, and history, hath given a beauty and energy to many modern judicial decisions, with which our ancestors wero wholly unacquainted. If, in the pursuit of these inquiries, the author hath been able to rectify any errors which either himself or others may bave heretoforo imbibed, his pains will be sufficiently answered; and if in some points he is still mistaken, the candid and judicious reader will make due allowances for the difficulties of a search so new, so extensive, and so laborious.

Nov. 2, 1765.

POSTSCRIPT. Notwithstanding the diffidence expressed in the foregoing Preface, no sooner was the work completed, but many of its positions were vehemently attacked by zealots of all (even opposite) denominations, religious as well as civil; by some with a greater, by others with a less, degree of acrimony. To such of these animadverters as liave fallen within the author's notice (for he doubts not but some have escaped it) he owes at least this obligation, that they have occasioned him from time to time to revise his work in respect to the particulars objected to; to retract or expunge from it what appeared to be really erroneous; to amend or supply it when inaccurate or defective; to illustrate and explain it when obscure. But, where he thought the objections ill founded, he hath left and shall leave the book to defend itself, being fully of opinion that, if his principles be false and his doctrines unwarrantable, no apology from himself can make them right; of founded in truth and rectitude, no censure from others can make them wrong.

iv

A MEMOIR

OF

SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTON,

BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR.

The ambition of posthumous fame is very general, if not universal, among mankind. It is one of the strong arguments for our immortality, that we stretch out our desires beyond the brief span of our present existence and live in the future. A sad and dreary thought would it be to a man,—that of dying unwept by any one, unhonoured by any survivor, and entirely forgotten as soon as removed from sight. If not an actor upon the more prominent theatre of the world's history, within some narrower circle of society-his neighbourhood, his friends, his family, or at least his descendants—every one looks anxiously forward, in the hope that his memory will be respectfully cherished, his faults and foibles overlooked and excused, his virtues adorned in their fairest and loveliest colours. Whether, in that spirit-land where our immortal natures still live after their earthly tabernacles have crumbled to their original clay, they have any knowledge of or interest in the affairs of the world which they have left behind, we do not know: it has not been revealed to us. From that bourne no traveller has returned. The faculties and powers of the soul,—especially memory,—the strong affections of the heart, all belonging to and constituting an inseparable part of its spiritual nature, as well as its unwearying activity even while the body reposes in soundest slumber, render it, to say the least, a reasonable conjecture that, though engaged in moral and intellectual employments and enjoyments much nobler and purer than earth's, they are still spectators—interested, curious spectators—in the works of God's providence which relate to his moral creation. The common superstitions of the people in all ages and countries, which may be regarded either as the tradition of an original revelation or the result of a stronglyimpressed innate sentiment, are not without weight on such a question. Such superstitions have intertwined themselves with the earliest poetry: they form a part of the legends of childhood: in spite of ourselves, we are all, more or less, believers in the communion of spirits. The man who has entirely cast off this prejudice or superstition, if we please to term it so, has lost one restraint which has been known to exert its salutary influence when even the sense of higher accountability has been disregarded. We may well fancy, then,

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