Page images

Relying upon their paper or parchment guarantees, the indolent and proud are too apt to neglect the only certain security of civil liberty in a republican government, that of perpetual vigilance on the part of each individual citizen.

11.-A Practical Treatise on the Law of Contracts, not under seal; and upon the usual defences to actions thereon. By Joseph CHITTY, Jun., Esq., of the Middle Temple. Fourth American edition, from the second London edition, corrected and greatly enlarged by the author; with the notes of former editions, to which are now added, copious notes of American decisions to the present time, by J. C. PERKINs, Esq. Springfield: published by G. & C. Meriam, 1839.

The present edition of Chitty on Contracts reminds us of an originally small house, which is from time to time enlarged by the owner, to accommodate an increasing family, till the successive additions become considerably larger than the original structure. We have before us at this moment the first English edition of this work, published in 1826, a moderate sized volume of some four hundred pages, and as little like its portly namesake, as Hotspur's outward man was like Falstaff's ; nor could it boast of any very high merit as a complete and thorough work upon the subject of which it professed to treat. Of this work, three American editions have appeared, the first, with annotations by a member of the Massachusetts bar, and the second and third with annotations by Mr. Troubat of Philadelphia. Of the third edition published in 1834, a notice was published in the thirteenth volume of the Jurist. In 1834, Mr. Chitty published a second edition of his work in England, enlarged by new matter to the extent of nearly three hundred pages. The subjects which have been more fully treated are principally the law relating to contracts for the sale of real property, to landlord and tenant, fixtures, husband and wife, partners, principal and agent, principal and surety, the sale of goods, the action for money had and received, and carriers. The law of defences has also been more fully stated. This edition is also materially improved in quality as well as enlarged in quantity.

This second English edition, thus enlarged and improved, forms the basis of the present work, which contains also all the notes of all the previous American editions. And in addition to these, it is enriched with the valuable annotations of Mr. Perkins, which are very full, and entirely exhaust the subject of contracts as they have been discussed in the various courts of America. We have before had occasion to speak in high terms of Mr. Perkins's editorial labors, and this commendation we now beg leave to repeat in the most emphatic terms. His notes form a most valuable appendage to the text of Chitty, and the purchaser of this book may be sure that he has in his possession all the law both of England and America on the subject of contracts, up to the time of its publication. The printer has not done entire justice to Mr. Perkins's share in the annotations, for the crooked brackets which distinguish his labors do not make their appearance till after the two hundredth page, though they are of as frequent occurrence during the first two hundred pages, as in any subsequent part of the work. Mr. Perkins is not responsible for the table of cases prefixed, in which the names are not arranged in very strict alphabetical order.

As a book for consultation and reference, the present edition of Chitty on Contracts leaves nothing to be desired, and on the shelf of the practising lawyer, it will take the place of all other books upon the subject, and indeed render them unnecessary. As a textbook to be studied, we cannot commend it very highly, as the brain of the learner will be likely to be bewildered with the multitude of details and the want of scientific arrangement. In this respect, it bears the same relation to the series of articles now publishing in the Jurist, which Chitty's Pleading does to Stephen's or a Nautical Almanac to Herschell's Astronomy.


Imprisonment for Debt under the Laws of the United States. An act of congress, passed at the session which has just closed, and approved February 28, 1839, puts imprisonment for debt under the laws of the United States, upon the same footing as it exists in the several states. The act provides; “that no person shall be imprisoned for debt in any state, on process issuing out of a court of the United States, where, by the laws of such state, imprisonment for debt has been abolished; and where, by the laws of a state, imprisonment for debt shall be allowed, under certain restrictions and conditions, the same conditions and restrictions shall be applicable to the process issuing out of the courts of the United States; and the same proceeding shall be had thereon, as are adopted in the courts of such state.”

Imprisonment for Debt in England. The statute, 1 and 2 Victoria, chapter 110, entitled “an act for abolishing arrest on mesne process in civil actions, except in certain cases; for extending the remedies of creditors against the property of debtors; and for amending the laws for the relief of insolvent debtors in England,” provides: 1, that from and after the time appointed for the commencement of the act, (Oct. 1, 1838), no person shall be arrested upon mesne process in any civil action in any inferior court whatsoever, or (except in the cases and manner provided) in any superior court; 2, that all personal actions in the superior courts of law at Westminster shall be commenced by summons; 3, that if a plaintiff, in any action, in any of the superior courts of law, at Westminster, in which the defendant is now liable to arrest, shall, by the affidavit of himself or of some other person,

Story's Commentaries on Equity Pleading. 247

show, to the satisfaction of a judge of one of those courts, that such plaintiff has a cause of action against the defendant or defendants to the amount of twenty pounds or upwards, or has sustained damages to that amount, and that there is probable cause for believing, that the defendant or any one or more of the defendants is or are about to quit England, unless he or they be forthwith apprehended, it shall be lawful for such judge, by a special order, to direct that such defendant or defendants, so about to quit England, shall be held to bail for such sum as such judge shall think fit, not exceeding the amount of the debt or damages. The foregoing are the provisions of the first three sections only; the remainder of the statute, (consisting in all of one hundred and twenty-three sections, besides a schedule of forms), contains the details by which these provisions are to be executed, together with enactments relating to the other subjects specified in the title.

Story's Commentaries on Equity Pleading. We perceive by the advertising columns of the English Law Periodicals, that Mr. Justice Story's late work on Equity Pleading has been republished in England. The following notice of it is extracted from the Jurist, for October 13, 1838:

“We hail the appearance of this work with great pleasure. The name of its distinguished author vouches for the ability of its execution; and on no subject could he have more usefully employed himself than that which he has here selected. There is one unusual and interesting circumstance connected with this treatise; it contains an attempt (the first of which we are aware) to shew that the abilities of a transatlantic lawyer may be made available in England; not merely in the elucidation of general principles, but in the explanation of practical details. Here is a treatise upon pleading, written in America, and intended as a work of reference, not merely for the American but for the English pleader. This is a bold experiment; still, such are the merits of the work, that we venture to say it will prove a successful one.

It is not our intention to present our readers with a detailed account of this treatise. It contains a thorough investigation of

[ocr errors]

the system of equity pleading, its principles, and practice. The author has never lost sight of the former while engaged in examining the minutiae of the latter, a task on which he has bestowed a degree of labor which it is really impossible to consider without astonishment. Numbers of books are cited in this treatise, the circulation of which, we had thought, was confined to London, but which he has evidently perused, compared, and criticised, with the greatest diligence, and the most striking acuteness. “We cordially recommend the work to readers of every denomination. It is so written as to be intelligible and instructive to the mere beginner, while, at the same time, it contains a store of learning, from which even the greatest masters of their profession need not be ashamed to draw. We should have inserted a much longer notice of it, were we not sure that its intrinsic merits will obtain for it a higher place in the estimation of the reader than can possibly be conferred by the eulogium of a critic.”

[From The Jurist for January 28, 1837.]

SIR,-If the publication of the following lines in your valuable paper would not be inconsistent with the gravity of its character, you are at liberty to give them to the legal world. They were written by a lamented young friend of mine, who might perhaps have risen into eminence as a special pleader, if a sudden attack of the influenza had not cut short his legal career. His health had been long delicate, and I am disposed to think it was partly owing to the unfortunate attachment which is alluded to in this little poetical effusion. His feelings had obviously been deeply compromised in the affair; but, from the character of the object of his affections, his friends were of opinion that even if his wishes had been gratified, it would have been a clear case of mis-joinder of parties, and that consequently a nonsuit would havtaken place.

Some critics may perhaps think that the language of the poet is rather too technical; but surely this is a narrow and unfounded objection. No one can write or speak naturally who endeavors to divest himself of his own peculiar habits of living and thinking;

« PreviousContinue »