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TO THE SEVENTH EDITION.
The seventh edition of Kent's Commentaries is the first that has been published containing any additions or alterations not made by the Author. As the work has become, in a great degree, a Digest of American Law, of practical use to the lawyer as well as the student, the Editor has endeavored to collect the principal decisions and statutory enactments that have been made since the appearance of the last edition. In some few instances, he has attempted, in a very limited manner, to illustrate or qualify some of the doctrines of the text.
The Editor is aware that this mode of collecting authorities is incompatible with exact method, and is, indeed, condemned by the Author himself; and it is quite possible that the original notes to the Commentaries, which were made at successive times, without regard to strict order, might be advantageously regulated and compressed. But, on reflection, he has not felt himself authorized to impair, in any degree, the integrity of the Commentaries, and the text and notes are presented in this edition, as they were left by the Author.
The great increase of the work has rendered the Author's index altogether too limited. A new and enlarged index has accordingly been added ; and, as a necessary effect of this index, a new numbering of the pages has been adopted. For the convenience of those possessing the previous publications of the work, the original numbers of the pages have been placed in the margins of the volumes.
It remains only for the Editor to mention, that the present edition has been prepared by him, with the full and equal coöperation of his friend, Dorman Bridgman Eaton, Esq., who has recently become a resident of New York; and whose learning and talents must hereafter, in their independent exercise, become manifest to the profession.
WILLIAM KENT. NEW YORK, May, 1851.
WILLIAM JOHNSON, Esq.
In compiling these volumes, (originally intended, and now published, for the benefit of American students,) I have frequently been led to revisit the same ground, and to follow out the same paths, over which I have so often passed with you as a companion to cheer and delight me.
You have reported every opinion which I gave in term time, and thought worth reporting, during the five and twenty years that I was a Judge at Law and in Equity, with the exception of the short interval occupied by Mr. Caines's Reports. During that long period I had the happiness to maintain a free, cordial, and instructive intercourse with you; and I feel unwilling now to close my labors as an author, and withdraw myself finally from the public eye, without leaving some memorial of my grateful sense of the value of your friendship, and my reverence for your character.
In inscribing this work to you, I beg leave, sir, at the same time, to add my ardent wishes for your future welfare, and assure you of my constant esteem and regard.
TO THE FIRST VOLUME OF THE FIRST EDITION.
HAVING retired from public office in the summer of 1823, I had the honor to receive the appointment of Professor of Law in Columbia College. The trustees of that institution have repeatedly given me the most liberal and encouraging proofs of their respect and confidence, and of which I shall ever retain a grateful recollection. A similar appointment was received from them in the year 1793; and this renewed mark of their approbation determined me to employ the entire leisure, in which I found myself, in further endeavors to discharge the debt which, according to Lord Bacon, every man owes to his profession. I was strongly induced to accept the trust, from want of occupation ; being apprehensive that the sudden cessation of my habitual employment, and the contrast between the discussions of the forum and the solitude of retirement might be unpropitious to my health and spirits, and cast a premature shade over the happiness of declining years.
The following Lectures are the fruit of the acceptance of that trust; and, in the performance of my collegiate duty, I had the satisfaction to meet a collection of interesting young gentlemen, of
i I was appointed Recorder of New York in March, 1797, and from that time until August, 1823, I was constantly employed in judicial duties.