« PreviousContinue »
mercantile law, “but having been happily instrumental in promoting the establishment of the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce,
it (then) became necessary for him to acquire some correct information respecting the principles and administration of commercial law in the various countries of the world;" for which purpose “ he entered into an extensive correspondence with foreign countries, and received most valuable documents, &c." These have given Mr. Levi some of his
” materials for his exposition of foreign law throughout the globe, and M. St. Joseph's work no small quota in addition ;-a fact thus cannily adverted to in a complimentary letter from Professor More, of Edinburgh, which Mr. Levi " has great pleasure in inserting” in the front of his book ;-" I see you have followed to a considerable extent the valuable Concordance of M. St. Joseph.” This is quite true.
Lawyers may probably entertain an antiquated notion that, to compile a work so essentially jurisprudential, some trifling antecedent knowledge either of the principles or practice of law would be a desideratum, if not a requisite. This is, however, not so; for though Mr. Leone Levi admits, with characteristic modesty, that “the creation of a work on commercial jurisprudence by one not educated to the law, must necessarily encounter great difficulties;" yet this, as we read on, appears to be of no sort of consequence, and the profession will learn, with great pleasure, that Mr. Levi's “apprehensions are partly allayed, when he considers that neither a subtle discrimination of words, nor an abstruse arrangement of sentences, are requisite in treating of law. There is needed only a simple, clear and distinct perception of its meaning, and a lucid exposition of its requirements.”
Mr. Levi much overstates what, according to his own showing, is requisite. So far, indeed, from a proper arrangement of sentences, or even a “ lucid exposition” of law being necessary, a slight glance at his codification of our own law of partnership will convince the most stubborn pedant in the profession that nothing more is needed for such a work as Mr. Levi’s, than a very old edition of Harrison's Digest, with scissars and pastepot. This enables Mr. Levi to give us a bird's-eye view, amply sufficient doubtless for “all practical purposes,” of the great principles of mercantile law, or, as he terms them in his preface, with admirable propriety, “ rules of court.” As to a "distinct perception" of what our law really is, our readers may rest assured that no research whatever is required for that purpose. It can be all drawn from the marginal notes of the oldest cases, ignoring and omitting the mass of important judgments
reported subsequently to 8 or 9 Adolphus & Ellis. New lights, however, burst on old cases through the lucidity of perception, which Mr. Levi is really quite redundantly gifted with: for example, how delightful it is to discover that the case of Dickinson v. Valpy, with which we all thought ourselves so familiar, broadly decides that " a partner in a mining or farming concern has no authority to bind his co-partner,” a fact which henceforth forms Article No. 83 in the New Code of our Commercial Law. Authorities are however shown by Mr. Levi to be quite superfluous. Indeed, we greatly prefer Mr. Levi's; and so we are sure will all people who hold small shares in large concerns, when they read his Article No. 33;—“ Partnership
of capital and labour entitles both parties to an equal share of it or its produce.” To this axiom no authority is appended. In fact, it would only introduce “a subtle discrimination of words,” were Mr. Levi to hamper himself with the precision of terms used by our punctilious judges: which he has indeed most successfully avoided. Equally felicitous is his escape from the other folly of jurists, namely, an "abstruse arrangement of sentences :" e. g. here are three consequent articles of the Code on Partnership, quite independent of any such trammels or of headings of any kind.
“ 97. Under Geo. IV. c. 14, payment of interest within six years by one of several joint contractors takes a debt out of the Statute of Limitations as against all.
“ 98. If one of several jointly interested in a cargo effects an insurance for the benefit of all, he may give notice of abandonment for all.
“ 99. Notice to the principal is in law notice to all agents.”
Succinctness of exposition also is further exemplified by Articles 48 and 49.
“ 48. When a trustee admits a specific sum to be due, that is recoverable by action (Roper v. Holland, 8 Ad. & Ell. 99).
“ 49. When the account is once liquidated (Preston v. Strutton, 1 Anstr. 50), and the note in question given as the balance, that must be paid."
The expositions of foreign law, where they are not quoted verbatim from M. St. Joseph, but appear in the genuine Levisian style, are, to say the very least, equally simple and lucid. But we are inclined to confess, if the truth must be spoken, that we attach even greater importance to the extracts our author has copied verbatim from actual codes and other authentic sources of information than to his own composition, and we expect that our merchants will enlighten their practical
ignorance of commercial law almost more from these quotations of foreign law than from Mr. Levi's own“ distinct perception'
“ " and “lucid exposition” of our own law. After they have learned from Mr. Levi, for instance, that " bills of exchange, of all instruments, circulate most widely” (Preface, p. ix.); and that
bill drawn in London or Paris may circulate from banker to banker through the continent of Europe,” and have been brought to “ acknowledge” that “ familiarity with such laws (as Partnership) must be of great moment:” and have been made rightly to understand these and similar truths by Mr. Levi, we think they may with propriety and profit proceed to consult his compilation of foreign codes; for we can with sincerity say, that he has collected a vast mass of curious, and to a great extent useful, information on the merchant laws of the great trading nations. It is well stated in the “ Journal des Savans” for 1842, by a French writer cited by Mr. Levi, that “there is not a banker, manufacturer, &c., however limited his affairs may be, who is not in correspondence with foreign countries, and who does not require to know the laws of other nations, either for entering into an action, in the prosecution of another, or to defend himself, or to claim against the application of such laws before the tribunals of his own country.” This is, as it seems to us, the only practical utility of such knowledge and of its accurate codification for easy reference. As regards Mr. Levi's “ ulterior object,” on which he addresses a special letter in his book to Prince Albert for a legislative measure of “ national and international commercial law,” if it were not for a profound respect for Mr. Levi, we should be disposed to apply a short and characteristic epithet to such a scheme-one which was apparently suggested to Mr. Levi's mind by the Crystal Palace; for be advises the Prince, that, to realize it, “ deputations should be invited to the metropolis at the time of the Exhibition with a view to consider its expediency. However expedient, is it practicable? And however willingly and readily the deputies might agree, what is to bind their governments, and what to induce them to revolutionize and uproot existing customs and laws to which the people of each country have been habituated for centuries ; whereas it would require centuries to carry the new code into effect. At any rate we advise Mr. Levi to postpone the alteration of the people's laws at the Exhibition, till he sees the success of the other movement to abolish their hats, certainly the easier enterprize of the two, and we are disposed to think, upon the whole, also the wiser.
That there must naturally be some affinity between national codes, having in great measure a common origin, is undeniable ;
but we suspect it is equally so, that the effect of time, of national idiosyncrasies, pecularities and diversities of commercial produce, habits, manufacture, and even geographical position, to say nothing of different languages, physical capacities and ethics,-have produced very considerable differences and disparities of actual and operative law; so that an amalgamation, never practicable, is no longer desirable. The notion may be
, fostered awhile in the sunshine of the Exbibition, but is, we fear, destined, after it has had its day, to expire in moonshine.
ART. VI. -- SCOTCH CONSISTORIAL LAW. - LORD
BROUGHAM v. THE SCOTCH JUDGES AND BAR.
Cases decided in the House of Lords, on Appeal from the Courts of Scotland,
between 3rd August, 1850, and 9th August, 1850. Reported by Sydney S. Bell, of Lincoln's Inn, Barrister at Law. By appointment of the House of Lords. London: W. Maxwell and Son, 32, Bell Yard, Lincoln's Inn. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark.-Vol. VII. Part III. Paterson v. Paterson,
Report of Cases decided in the House of Lords, upon Appeal from Scotland,
from 1753 to 1813. By Thomas S. Paton, Esq., Advocate. Being the Continuation of the Reports of Messrs. Craigie and Stuart. Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, Law Booksellers, 38, George Street. London: Benning and Co.– Vol. II. Part II. Arthur v. Gourlay, p. 184.
HE curiosities of research in legal literature have recently
prudence, which we feel it a duty to bring under the notice of the profession. And as if to make the circumstance more piquant, it has arisen out of that courageous administration of the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords, which Lord Brougham so strikingly exemplified last session, when he sat alone as supreme judge in review of the judgments of the whole tribunals of the empire. As usual, there were not wanting Scotch cases, among which was that of Paterson v. Paterson, the parties being husband and wife, and the latter suing the former for separation à mensâ et thoro, on the ground of cruelty, and for “aliment.” In disposing of this case, Lord Brougham took occasion to reverse the judgment of the Scotch court in a manner, and with the exposition of legal views, which we be
lieve startled the jurisprudential intellect of the Parliament House, where, we grieve to learn, there is wanting that profound submission of mind which should accompany all professional consideration of the proceedings in the court of the last resort.
The nature of the case may be shortly explained. The respondent in the appeal, Mrs. Elizabeth Russell, or Paterson, had brought a suit in the Scotch court for separation à mensâ et thoro from her husband, Mr. Duncan Campbell Paterson, of Lochgair, in Argyleshire, on the ground of cruel treatment; and she also prayed, by her summons, for a suitable maintenance while living separate from him. The case certainly is a very peculiar one, and, we believe, raises the legal question in a form in which it has never yet been considered. The appellant, shortly after his marriage with the respondent, conceived an intolerable aversion to her, who, on her part, had been unconscious of having given her husband any deep offence. Even before their union it would appear that he had little or no affection, his object being money, and release from pecuniary embarrassment. The dislike in the husband became so strong, that he treated his wife with a contempt and cutting insult which, to the mind and feelings of any woman, must, we should think, be even more harrowing, and the cause of more wretchedness, than even the barbarism of actual personal violence. The evidence, consisting of letters and the depositions of servants, clearly established all this, and even more. In a letter, dated 2nd October, addressed to his father-in-law about three months after the marriage, Paterson says
“ The same letter which covered my proposal for your daughter, covered a most urgent solicitation to be relieved of some pressing pecuniary embarrassments which were adjusted by you, and my proposal at same time formally accepted by your daughter, whom I had been the means of bringing specially to London. My coldness of manner, avoidance and general deportment, were too apparent to be misunderstood, and became the subject of remark amongst them (the friends of his wife he then met).” On the 28th November he wrote
That there exists now, as at all previous times, an involuntary avoidance and coldness I cannot deny; everything she says, and everything she does, is so distasteful to me, that I almost imperceptibly shrink from those attentions which may be expected from me.
On the 26th December he again writes in the following extraordinary terms
“ You have very justly, as you say, looked upon me as a man and not a boy, but you must be aware that the feelings and passions of a