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The Laws of England:
SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, KNT.
WITH THE LAST CORRECTIONS OF THE AUTHOR, AND COPIOUS
BY J. E. HOVENDEN, ESQ.
OF GRAY'S INN, BARRISTER AT LAW.
Law Booksellers and Publishers:
The Gentleman who at the last publication of Blackstone's Commentaries edited the second volume, has been requested, upon the present occasion, to furnish notes to the first and third volumes also ; with that request he has complied, and the result of his labours is now offered to the public.
Setting aside faults in the execution, which he doubts not are many, it would be simple to hope that the plan upon which he has proceeded should not incur objections. The text is not only referred to by members of all the several branches of the legal profession,--some of them scientific lawyers, others familiar with the details of practice, and others again who are only commencing their studies,—but is likewise perused by most persons who, though not professional, wish to acquire some knowledge of the laws and constitution under which they live. To the present general utility of such a work, which was first published more than seventy years ago, annotations are indispensable ; and they must, necessarily, either contain much that to one class of readers will appear superfluous, or disappoint others by, what they will deem, meagreness of detail. In such a dilemma, an editor 'cannot escape the censures of both parties; and neither deprecations nor apologies would affect the judgment of a single reader; therefore, they will not be idly offered.
The recent alterations in our social and political system have been far too important not to supply materials for numerous corrections of Blackstone's statements; a considerable part of his text, indeed, is become matter rather of antiquarian research, than of present practical application: it is hoped that the actual changes which the law has undergone, up to the date of this preface, have all been noticed at the proper places for mentioning them.
Such measures as are only under discussion whilst this work is going through the press, will be shortly adverted to. Many more alterations in our old laws must be made, to adapt them to existing institutions. These latter being established, it would be vain to cling to, and impossible long to retain, remnants of a polity which never can be made to agree with our new constitution.
The most distasteful part of the Editor's task has been the necessity of animadverting upon one of his recent precursors : no doubt, every man who publishes, voluntarily sets his work up as a mark for criticism to aim at,—the notes to the three first of the volumes offer a wide butt,--- it is a sport, however, which the present writer would have declined, entirely, could he have done so consistently with, what he conceived to be, a due performance of his undertaking; and he has suppressed nine tenths of the censures actually prepared for the press.
Those notes of an earlier editor- Mr. Christian - which have been retained, are marked by subjoining to them the two first letters of that learned writer's name.
Lincoln's Inn, 15th March, 1836.
P. S. Since the above preface was sent to the printer, in March last, the expectations intimated in the notes to Vol. 1, p. 12, and Vol. 3, p. 56, that an improved tribunal of ultimate appeal would be established during the present year, have been disappointed.
The question being still open, it may not be impertinent to submit the following suggestions; some of which have been advocated by Lord Brougham, others by Sir Edward Sugden, and for the remainder the present writer is answerable.
By the statute of 11 Geo. 4 & 1 Will. 4, c. 70, s. 8, an excellent Court of Appeal, as to all English cases of common law, exists in the Exchequer Chamber; and its jurisdiction might be advantageously extended to Irish appeals. If a new judicial officer is added to the Court of Chancery, and if the Equity department of the Court of Exchequer were rendered perfectly