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scending into the grave along with them, and there remaining in decay, do not plead the same degree of necessity and the same universal use. There is an instance of an European sovereign making an attempt to abolish the use of sepulchral chests in his Italian dominions, but frustrated by the natural feelings of a highly polished people. In our country the use of coffins is extremely ancient. They are found of great apparent antiquity, of various forms and various materials—of wood, of stone, of metals, of marble, and even of glass.”
Sir William Scott was judge of the admiralty court from 1798, to 1828, and in this capacity, his great powers shone with equal, perhaps superior lustre. It was fortunate for his fame, that he occupied the position during so remarkable and eventful a period in European history, during a portion of which England was waging a desperate conflict with the most wonderful man in modern history, with nearly all the resources of the continent at his control, a conflict which she was enabled to carry on mainly by her naval supremacy, and by her commerce flourishing in spite of the restrictions with which it was clogged, and the obstacles with which it had to contend. It was this long and passionate warfare, which gave origin to those masterly judgments, worthy of the great interests involved, and which have ever been received as paramount authorities in the exposition of international law. There is, as our professional readers need hardly be told, a very great difference in the functions and position of an admiralty judge in a time of war and peace. In “piping times of peace” he is occupied with matters, which, however much they may interest the parties concerned, awaken little attention in the public at large, still less in foreign nations, such as sailors' wages, the apportionment of salvage, the settlement of questions of collision, bottomry bonds, &c. But when the “blast of war blows in our ears” he dilates into a magnitude and importance wholly unknown before. States, sovereignties and empires,
come before him as suitors in his discussions of the manifold questions growing out of the rights of neutrals, the construction of treaties, the laws of blockade, the rights of captors, the right of search for enemies' goods, or goods contraband of war, &c. &c. His grasp is felt in the remotest seas, and his empire is commensurate with the winds and waves. A few sentences from his lips transfer a million's worth of property, and settle the most difficult questions, about which ambassadors have intrigued, treaties been made and broken, and congresses of nations summoned. The admiralty decisions of sir William Scott are contained in the reports of Robinson, Edwards, Dodson and Haggard, and the high and enduring reputation which they enjoy, as sound expositions of the law of nations, render any commendations from us unnecessary. The following extract from his judgment in the case of the Maria, 1 Rob. 287, justifying the seizure of a Swedish (neutral) ship, laden with naval stores, for registry visitation and search by a British cruiser, contains a statement of the principles upon which he administered the law, and of the sense of duty by which he was actuated in his judicial station.
“In forming that judgment, I trust that it has not escaped my anxious recollection for one moment, what it is that the duty of my station calls for from me;—namely, to consider myself as stationed here, not to deliver occasional and shifting opinions to serve present purposes of particular national interest, but to administer with indifference that justice which the law of nations holds out, without distinction, to independent states, some happening to be neutral and some to be belligerent. The seat of judicial authority is, indeed, locally here, in the belligerent country, according to the known law and practice of nations: but the law itself has no locality. It is the duty of the person who sits here to determine this question exactly as he would determine the same question if he was sitting at Stockholm; to assert no pretensions on the part of Great Britain which he would not allow to Sweden
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in the same circumstances, and to impose no duties on Sweden, as a neutral country, which he would not admit to belong to Great Britain in the same character. If, therefore, I mistake the law in this matter, I mistake that which I consider, and which I mean should be considered, as the universal law upon the question; a question regarding one of the most important rights of belligerent nations relatively to neutrals.”"
Sir William Scott in 1821 was raised to the peerage and created baron Stowel, but as he had already attained to the age of seventy-six years, his functions in the grave and dignified body to which he now belonged were confined to a silent vote. He retired from the consistory court in 1821, and from the admiralty court in 1828. The short remnant of his life was passed in retirement at his country residence, and the last years of his life were darkened by physical infirmity, and the decay of his mental powers, that “dementia” which the Roman poet tells us is “omni membrorum damno major.” He died without pain or consciousness, on the twenty-ninth day of January, 1836.
Lord Stowel was twice married. His first wife, whom he married in April, 1782, was Anna Maria, daughter of John Bagnall, by whom he had two children, a son who died a short time before his father, and a daughter, the wife of viscount Sidmouth. He became a widower in 1809, and in 1813, married the widow of the marquis of Sligo. If the authority of the writer of the biography in the London Law Magazine may be relied upon, his second marriage formed no accession to his happiness, and he is to be added to the list of men, who, sensible and prudent in all other things, have expended all their folly in the selection of their wives, or in the unseasonableness of their marriage. His personal character was marked in a high degree by amiableness and kindliness of feeling. His nature was social and he was fortunate in an extensive circle of friends. His domestic attachments were strong, and the intimate tie which connected him with his brother lord Eldon continued unbroken, till it was severed by the rude hand of death. He was what is called a gentleman of the old school, and in his manners he retained the elaborate courtesy of former times mingled with a grace peculiar to himself. With the manners of a former period he retained its convivial habits, which his vigorous constitution permitted him to indulge freely, though he never was betrayed into excess. His brother lord Eldon used to say of him (and lord Eldon's jokes are as worthy of preservation as queen Anne farthings) that he never ate fewer than three hundred and sixty five good dinners in one year, but how many more he would not undertake to say. He seems to have been wanting in the sterner and austere virtues of the stoic, and a vein of mild epicurianism ran through his character. He was by constitution a tory and a conservative. He shrank from any innovation upon established usages, not only from principle, but from his love of repose, which made the bustle of change and the excitement of novelty distasteful to him. He was accused of loving money “not wisely but too well,” and of being very reluctant to listen to those claims upon his generosity, to which
* We extract from the life of lord Stowel in the London Law Magazine, to which we have already expressed our acknowledgments, a few sentences illustrative of the profound ignorance which seems to prevail, even among intelligent men in England, upon every thing connected with the institutions of this country: “Lord Stowel printed, for private distribution, some copies of his judgments, and sent one to the admiralty judge of the United States. After acknowledging the present, this gentleman continued—“In the excitement caused by the hostilities then raging between our countries, I frequently impugned your judgments and considered them as severe and partial, but on a calm review of your decisions after a lapse of years, I am bound to confess my entire conviction both in their accuracy and equity. I have taken care that they shall form the basis of the maritime law of the United States, and I have no hesitation in saying that they ought to do so in that of every civilized country in the world.’”
a proper sense of duty as well as a benevolent spirit should have made him lend an indulgent ear. There is much apology, however, for this foible, in men who are born poor, and who attain independence by earning much and spending little; for when competence has expanded into wealth, the habits have become too inveterate to be changed. He died without any male heir, and his honorable title has become extinct. G. s. H.
ART. WI-LIEBER'S HERMENEUTICS.
Legal and Political Hermeneutics, or Principles of Interpretation and Construction in Law and Politics, with Remarks on Precedents and Authorities. Enlarged edition. By FRANCIS LIEBER. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1839. 12mo, pp. 240.
This work was originally published in the eighteenth volume of our journal. It has been rewritten and enlarged, and is now published in a separate form. The author has also added an entirely new chapter on Authorities. Having already expressed our opinion of the work, in the remarks prefixed to it, in its original form, we have only to add, that, in its present shape, it is still more worthy of the attention of the general as well as the professional reader. The author's intention, in the first instance, was, to make it a part of his work on Political Ethics, in which case, it would have required abridgment; but we think he has both added to his own fame, and done a service to the public, by publishing this enlarged edition in a volume by itself. L. S. C.