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"few questions in law arife, and the learned fhould not fo often " and fo much perplex their heads to make atonement and 66 peace, by construction of law, between infenfible and difagreeing words, fentences, and provifoes, as they now do." And it this inconvenience was fo heavily felt in the reign of queen Elizabeth, you may judge how the evil is increafed in later times, when the ftatute book is fwelled to ten times a larger bulk; unless it fhould be found, that the penners of our modern ftatutes have proportionably better informed themfelves in the knowlege of the common law、
WHAT is faid of our gentlemen in general, and the propriety of their application to the ftudy of the laws of their country, will hold equally ftrong or still stronger with regard to the nobi lity of this realm, except only in the article of ferving upon juries. But, inftead of this, they have feveral peculiar provinces of far greater confequence and concern; being not only by birth hereditary counsellors of the crown, and judges upon their honour of the lives of their brother-peers, but also arbiters of the property of all their fellow-fubjects, and that in the last resort. In this their judicial capacity they are bound to decide the nicest and moft critical points of the law; to examine and correct fuch crrors as have escaped the moft experienced fages of the profeffion, the lord keeper and the judges of the courts at Westminster. Their fentence is final, decifive, irrevocable: no appeal no correction, not even a review can be had: and to their determination, whatever it be, the inferior courts of juftice must conform; otherwite the rule of property would no longer be uniform and fteady.
SHOULD a judge in the most subordinate jurifdiction be deficient in the knowlege of the law, it would reflect infinite con-. tempt upon himself, and difgrace upon thefe who employ him. And yet the confequence of his ignorance is comparatively very trifling and small: his judgment may be examined, and his errors redified, by other courts. But how much more ferious and
affecting is the case of a superior judge, if without any skill in the laws he will boldly venture to decide a queftion, upon which the welfare and fubfiftence of whole families may depend! where the chance of his judging right, or wrong, is barely equal; and where, if he chances to judge wrong, he docs an injury of the moft alarining nature, an injury without poffibility of redrefs!
YEг, vaft as this truft is, it can no where be so properly repofed, as in the noble hands where our excellent constitution has placed it and therefore placed it, because, from the independence of their tortune and the dignity of their station, they are prefumed to employ that leifure which is the confequence of both, in attaining a more extenfive knowledge of the laws than perfons of inferior rank and because the founders of our polity relied upon that delicacy of fentiment, fo peculiar to noble birth; which, as on the one hand it will prevent either intereft or affection from interfering in queftions of right, fo on the other it will bind a peer in honour, an obligation which the law eftecms equal to another's oath, to be mafter of thofe points upon which it is his birthright to decide.
THE Roman pandects will furnifh us with a piece of history not unapplicable to our prefent purpofe. Servius Sulpicius, a gentleman of the patrician order, and a celebrated orator, had occasion to take the opinion of Quintus Mutius Scaevola, the oracle of the Roman law; but, for want of fome knowlege in that fcience, could not so much as understand even the technical terms, which his friend was obliged to make ufe of. Upon which Mutius Scaevola could not forbear to upbraid him with this mcmorable reproof," that it was a flame for a partrician, a noble“man, and an orator of caufes, to be ignorant of that law in "which he was to peculiarly concerned." This reproach made fo deep an impreffion on Sulpicius, that he immediately applied himself to the ftudy of the law; wherein he arrived to that proficiency,
$18.104.22.168.5.43, Tay-per-uio, et mbili, et cafueranti, in qus verfaretur ignorat
ficiency, that he left behind him about a hundred and fourfcore volumes of his own compiling upon the fubject; and became, in the opinion of Cicero, a much more complete lawyer than cven Mutius Scaevola himself.
I WOULD not be thought to recommend to our English nobility and gentry, to become as great lawyers as Sulpicius; though he, together with this character, fuftained likewife that of an excellent orator, a firm patriot, and a wife indefatigable fenator: but the inference which arifes from the flory is this, that ignorance of the laws of the land hath ever been efteemed difhonourable in those, who are entrusted by their country to maintain, to adminifter, and to amend them.
BUT furely there is little occafion to enforce this argument any farther to perfons of rank and diftinction, if we of this place may be allowed to form a general judgment from those who are under our infpection: happy, that while we lay down the rule, we can also produce the example. You will therefore permit your profeffor to indulge both a public and private fatisfaction, by bearing this open teftimony; that, in the infancy of these ftudies among us, they were favoured with the most diligent attendance, and pursued with the most unwearied application, by thofe of the nobleft birth and moft ample patrimony: fome of whom are ftill the ornaments of this feat of learning: and others at a greater diftance continue doing honour to it's inftitutions, by comparing our polity and laws with those of other kingdoms abroad, or exerting their fenatorial abilities in the councils of the nation at home.
NOR will fome degree of legal knowlege be found in the leaft fuperfluous to perfons of inferior rank; efpecially those of the learned profeffions. The clergy in particular, befides the common obligations they are under in proportion to their rank and fortune, have alfo abundant reafon, confidered merely as clergy
men, to be acquainted with many branches of the law, which are almoft peculiar and appropriated to themfelves alone. Such are the laws relating to advowfons, inftitutions, and inductions; to fimony, and fimoniacal contracts; to uniformity, refidence, and pluralities; to tithes and other ecclefiaftical dues; to marriages (more efpecially of late) and to a variety of other fubjects, which are configned to the care of their order by the provisions of particular ftatutes. To understand these aright, to difcern what is warranted or enjoined, and what is forbidden by law, demands a fort of legal apprchenfion; which is no otherwife to be acquired, than by use and a familiar acquaintance with legal writers.
FOR the gentlemen of the faculty of phyfic, I must frankly own that I fee no fpecial reafon, why they in particular fhould apply themselves to the ftudy of the law; unless in common with other gentlemen, and to complete the character of general and extenfive knowlege; a character which their profeflion, beyond others, has remarkably deferved. They will give me leave however to fuggeft, and that not ludicroufly, that it might frequently be of ufe to families upon fudden emergencies, if the phyfician were acquainted with the doctrine of laft wills and teftaments, at least fo far as relates to the formal part of their execution.
BUT thofe gentlemen who intend to profefs the civil and ecclefiaftical laws in the spiritual and maritime courts of this kingdom, are of all men (next to common lawyers) the moft indifpenfably obliged to apply themselves ferioufly to the study of our municipal laws. For the civil and canon laws, confidered with refpect to any intrinfic obligation, have no force or authority in this kingdom; they are no more binding in England than our laws are binding at Rome. But as far as thefe foreign laws, on account of fome peculiar propriety, have in fome particular cafes, and in fome particular courts, been introduced and allowed by our laws, fo far they oblige, and no farther; their authority being wholly founded upon that permiffion and adoption. In which we are not fingular in our notions: for even in Holland, where the imperial
imperial law is much cultivated and it's decifions pretty generally followed, we are informed by Van Leeuwen', that "it receives "it's force from cuftom and the confent of the people, either ta"citly or exprefsly given: for otherwife, he adds, we should no "more be bound by this law, than by that of the Almains, the "Franks, the Saxons, the Goths, the Vandals, and other of the "antient nations." Wherefore, in all points in which the different systems depart from each other, the law of the land takes place of the law of Rome, whether antient or modern, imperial or pontificial. And, in those of our English courts wherein a reception has been allowed to the civil and canon laws, if either they exceed the bounds of that reception, by extending themfelves to other matters, than are permitted to them; or if fuch courts proceed according to the decifions of thofe laws, in cafes wherein it is controlled by the law of the land, the common law in either inftance both may, and frequently does, prohibit and annul their proceedings: and it will not be a fuflicient excufe for them to tell the king's courts at Westminster, that their practice is warranted by the laws of Juftinian or Gregory, or is conformable to the decrees of the Rota or imperial chamber. For which reason it becomes highly neceflary for every civilian and canonift, that would act with fafety as a judge, or with prudence and reputation as an advocate, to know in what cafes and how far the English laws have given fanction to the Roman; in what points the latter are rejected; and where they are both fo intermixed and blended together, as to form certain supplemental parts of the common law of England, distinguished by the titles of the king's maritime, the king's military, and the king's ecclefiaftical law. The propriety of which enquiry the university of Oxford has for more than a century fo thoroughly feen, that in her ftatutes' fhe appoints, that one of the three queftions to be annually difcuffed at the act by the jurift-inceptors fhall relate to the common law; fubjoining this reafon, "quia juris civilis ftudiofos decet haud imperitos effe juris municipalis, et differentias
1 Dedicatio corporis juris civilis. Edit. 1663. Hale. Hift. C. L. c. 2. Selden in Fle
tam. 5. Rep. Caudrey's cafe. 2 Inft.599. 1 Tit. VII. S. 2. §. 2.