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made fubfervient to the completion of his own design, by 'extracting from each what he thought most for his purpose, with : out loading the reader's memory too much with pompous trifles.
The short Dictionary of Technical Terms, at the end, is very concise, yet tolerably full: though some words, made use of in the book, are not explained in the di&tionary; for instance chappé, p. 108.- Dia. Archbishop of York, he says, writes him- : self (only) as bifhops do, by divine permiffion. In this he is wrong; as well as in ftiling the Abp. of Cant. the Primate of all England : the particle the not being used in his style.—Dict. ) Marquis, his title is, said to be, most noble, instead of most honourable.
In the chapter of PRECEDENCY, the Lord Constable is forgot, and the Secretaries of State faid to precede all of their own degree; which is the case, only, when the latter happen to be barons, or bishops. And, at present, the Lord Great Chamberlain of England takes place only according to his creation, and does not precede those of his own degree.—These inaccuracies are pointed out, with a view to their being amended in a future edition ; and to prevent their being re-printed, -as is too often done, even where books are said to have been corrected.
Commentaries on the Laws of England. Book the First. By Wil
liam Blackstone, Esq; Vinerian Professor of Law, and Solicitor-General to her Majesty. 4to. 18 s. in Sheets. Worral. T has long since been a complaint, that the study of the law
is of all others the least inviting, especially to a student of any genius and vivacity : and this may seem the more extraordinary, when it is considered that the life, health, reputation, and property of mankind are preserved, nay that their very pleasures are regulated, by the law, which embraces within its circle quicquich agunt homines. One might imagine that in fo wide a field, the liveliest imagination might find some path in which to exercise its faculties; nevertheless, dull plodding drones, whose minds never entertained a bright idea, have been distinguished as the most shining luminaries of the law. The illuitrious Bacon, though Chancellor of Great Britain, is little spoken of as a lawyer, while his cotemporary and competitor, Coke, is adored as an oracle.
We are inclined to think that this general averfion to the study of the law, cannot be owing to the nature of the science itself, but is rather, among other reasons, to be attributed to the ines legant and uncouth manner in which it has been treated. Lawbooks being chiefly compiled from reports, which have been
penned from the mouths of the court and the bar, are full of all the inaccuracies attending common speech; and our compilers having most of them religiously adhered to the very letter, law, books have become the folemn fanctuaries of barbarism, and cannot fail to disgust a reader of correct and elegant-taste.
But the learned and ingenious Apthor of the commentaries before. us has, to use the expresion of a popular judge, brushed away the cobwebs of the law, and placed it in so clear a light, that, under his auspices, the study becomes at once agreeable, elegant and instructive.
It is to be observed that the Writer has not discharged the talk of a mere lawyer,-than which perhaps there is not a more cir cumscribed and insipid character. A mere lawyer contents himself with knowing what the law is in given cafes, and but seldom, applies his thoughts to discover the rationale, on which legal principles are founded ;, much less does be extend his ideas fo far as to consider what institutions are capable of improvement. » What perseverance can, conquer, he will furmount's what get nius muft fupply, he will want for ever.
Our masterly Commentator takes a wider range, and unites, the qualities of the historian and politician, with thofe of the lawyer, He traces the first establishment of our laws, developes the principles on which they are grounded, examines their prepriety and efficacy, and, with that decorum which attends good senfe, he sometimes points out wherein they may be al- ' tered for the better.
It affords us a fenfible pleasure that we have this opportunity of giving our Readers such an abstract of so able a performance, as, we think, muft neceffarily induce them to peruse the work at large. At the fame time, we shall, with all the freedom of impartial criticism, take notice of fuch errors and inaccuracies 25 may seem to require animadverfion. But, whenever we find occafion to differ from our Author, the respect due to his merit, nay, the respect due to ourselves, will oblige us to express our diffent with candor, with politeness, with delicacy*:
The introduction to these commentaries is divided into four sections. Of the first, which treats of the study of the law, we thall take no nosice, baying already expreffed our sentiments with respect to this meritorious treatise, which was long since
Here, as members of, and we'l-wishers to, the republic of let:ers, we cannot corbear lamenting some late instances, wherein.men of ac. knowledged learning and genius, who ought to have been masters of themseives and examples to others, have unhappily, shewn that the advaatages of litera u:e, instead of serving to moderate pride and affivage reben'meni, only supply the means of conveying their effects with greater poignance and acrimony.
published separately*: we shall therefore proceed to the second, which treats of the nature of laws in general.
This section very properly opens with a definition of law in general. • Law, says the Writer, in its moft general and comprehensive sense, signifies a rule of action ; and is applied indifcriminately to all kinds of action, whether animate or inanimati, jational or irrational. Thus we say the laws of motion, of gravitation, of optics, or mechanics, as well as the laws of nature and of nations. And it is that rule of action, which is prescribed by some superior, and which the inferior is bound to obey.'
In this definition, the learned Author does not seem to have expressed himself with his usual correctness and perspicuity. In the first place, it may be deemed rather inaccurate to talk of inanimate
' Action; to this we may add, that the definition feems to confound law in general, with law in a more confined sense : for, after having said that it is applied indiscriminately to all kinds of action, whether animate or inanimate, ra. tional or irrational, the paragraph concludes thus : ' and it is that rule of action, which is prescribed by some superior, and which the inferior is bound to obey.' Now, the terms fuperior and inferior imply cerrain relations not ftri&tly applicable to any thing inanimate or irrational : and this part of the definition is rather descriptive of law, as denoring the rule of human action, than of law in the general sense here intended t.
From this general definition of law, our Author proceeds to an explanation of the law of nature, which, as he observes, is
founded on those relations of justice, that existed in the nature of things antecedent to any positive piecept. These are the eternal, immutable laws of good and evil, to which the Creator biinielf in all his dispensations conforms; and which he has enabled human reason to discover, so far as they are necessary for the conduct of human actions. Such, among others, are these principles that we should live honestly, should hurt nobody, and should render to every one its due ; to which three general precepts, Juftinian has reduced the whole doctrine of law.'
. But if the discovery of these first principles of the law of nature depended only upon the due exertion of right reason, and could not otherwise be attained than by a chain of metaphysical
• See Review, Vol. XIX. p. 485. † It may be added, that it is in substance the fame with the definition of law given by Puffendorf and Hobbes. Puffendorf fays, In genere ausem lex commodiffime videtur defini, i, per decretum quo fuperior fibi subjectum ob.igat, ut ad illius prefcriptum actiones fuas cumponar. to Hobbes, to the fame effeci, Alain is the command of him or them that have the sovereign power, given to those that be his or their subjects, declaring publickly and plainly what every of them may do, and what they mult for bear to do.'
disquisitions, mankind would have wanted some inducement to have quickened their enquiries, and the greater part of the world would have rested content in mental indolence, and ignorance, its inseparable companion. As therefore the Creator is a being, not only of infinite power and wisdom, but also of infinite goodness, he has been pleased so to contrive the constitution and frame of humanity, that we Ihould want no other prompter to enquire after and pursue the rule of right, but only our own self-love, that universal principle of action. For he has so intimately connected, so inseparably interwoven, the laws of eternal justice with the happiness of each individual, that the latter cannot be obtained but by observing the former; and, if the former be punctually obeyed, it cannot but induce the latter. In consequence of which mutual connexion of justice and human felicity, he has not perplexed the law of nature with a multitude of abstracted rules and precepts, referring merely to the fitness or unfitness of things, as some have vainly surmised; but has graciously reduced the rule of obedience to this one paternal precept," that man should pursue his own happiness.” This is the foundation of
what we call ethics, or natural law. For the several articles into which it is branched in our systems, amount to no more than demonstrating, that this or that action tends to man's real happiness, and therefore very justly concluding thật the performance of it is a part of the law of nature; or, on the other hand, that this or that action is destructive of man's real happiness, and therefore that the law of nature forbids it.'
In this paragraph, the principles of Shaftesbury, in his inquiry concerning virtue, are adopted and enforced with great energy and conciseness : and our Author proceeds to observe, that this law of nature being coeval with mankind, and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times : no buman laws are of any validity, if contrary to this; and such of them as are valid, derive all their force and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original.?
The generous warmth with which this liberal Writer here speaks of the law of nature is highly to be applauded; but when he says that no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this,' he must be supposed to mean that they are not morally valid: for we know too well that they are politically valid ; and we may be bold to add, that some of our laws of property, and many of our criminal laws, are contrary to this precept of the law of nature, that we should render to every one his due.'
Animadverfions on Mr. Phillips's Hiftory of the Life of Cardinal Pole. By Timothy Neve, D. D. Rector of Middleton-Stoney, Oxfordshire. 8vo. 6s. Oxford printed, and fold by Robson in London.
E entirely agree, with the learned Dr. Jortin*, that al
though the life of Pole, by Mr. Phillips, is a performance which seems not to forebode any evil at all to our church and state ; yet it deserves to be examined and confuted. Such fort of writings are generally attended with good effects; they have given occasion, as Dr. J. farther remarks, to excellent answers, and furnished materials for the Stillingfeets, the Tillotsons, &c.' to whom we may add the Ridleys and the Neves.
The notorious sophistry and fallaciousness of the late history of Reginald Pole, however, seems to have rendered Dr. N. thoroughly sensible, that some apology was necessary, for his have ing condescended to take the pains of writing fo elaborate a refutation of it. The performance, indeed, says he, hath nothing in it that may alarm us, or give us apprehensions of its doing mischief; but as every thing of that nature is looked upon as a kind of defiance, and, if not particularly considered, as a triumph too,—the author of the following theets has ventured to accept the challenge.' Pref.
Dr. Neve appears to have been animated to take up the gauntlet thrown out by this champion of Rome, from a reflection which hath occurred to many others, since the publication of Pole's life; and which our Author hath thus very justly expressed :-* The restless emissaries of the fee of Rome, not content with the liberty of conscience indulged them, are continually reviving the controversy between their church and ours, and making encroachments upon us. Among the many attacks to which their eagerness hath prompted them, and which of late hath been very open and indecent, there is no one, continues the Doctor, in which the exploded errors of popery are worked up in a more artful and insidious manner, than the History of the Life of Cardinal Pole; which is a laboured, plausible insult, both upon the civil and ecclefiaftical liberties of this country.'
In his remarks on Phillips's book, communicated to Dr. N. and printed at the end of these Animadversions:-in which remarks, Dr. J. observes, that much such a work as Phillips's, in some respects, was The Life of Wolsey, written at a critical time, by our Fiddes, a Protesiant. Papif (the expression is as proper at least as Roman-catholic) to prepare us for popery and the pretender: a book which had no other effect, than to expose the author and his patrons.'