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totius acervi furem esse putat: mám et qui aurem alicusus tetigit, inquit Trebatius, totum eum videri tetigisse: proindé et qui dolium aperuit et indé parvum vini abstulit, non tantùm ejus quod abstulit, veräm totius videlur fur esse. Sed verum est in tantùm eos furti actione teneri, quantum abstulerunt. Lipsius, Quevedo, Gutacker, Budaeus, and Tiedeman have written the history of the stoic philosophy; and the general historians of philosophy, Brucker, Buhle, Gerando, have set forth and appreciated the doctrine of the stoics, by a comparison of it with other philosophic systems; but Mr. Lerminier deals wrongsully by it and denies its good influence. “What have they done? What devotion have they manifested for humanity? What grand historic act is theirs, saving the protestation and death of Cato ? Where are the positive acts, the durable institutions, for which the world is indebted to them 7 Where is the word and the bread for humanity.” These reproaches are unjust. Mr. Lerminier has announced his intention to investigate the influence of the stoic philosophy on the Roman jurisprudence,—one of the finest subjects for the pen of the historian of legal systems, and not unworthy that of Mr. Lerminier, and we will indicate the answer which he will himself make to them. What have the stoic philosophers done? They made the Roman law. Is a work like this nothing for science,—for humanity ? “The stoic philosophy,” says the same writer, “is so incorporated in the Roman law, that they may be said to make use of a judicial expression, to form an indivisible whole.” In truth, a profound study of the ideas of the stoics must be of great assistance in investigating the Roman law. It is impossible to know the laws of a people unless we know their philosophy. Now, the conception of the stoic philosophy was Greek, but its practice was Roman; it constituted justice the sovereign good, even to the sacrifice of the principle of utility; it maintained in the law its severe and monumental character; and, after the manners of the people had become enervated, it seemed to repress the licentiousness of their habits by the ancient strictness of its precepts and its maxims.
* Philosophy of Law, vol. ii. p. 69.
ART. III.--SKETCH OF THE PROFESSIONAL LIFE OF JOHN ADAMS.
IN carrying into effect the original design of furnishing notices of the judiciary of Massachusetts, it has been rendered unnecessary to go back to a time prior to the revolution, by the recent publication of a work embracing the same object.' Although no legislative act of separation, between the province of Massachusetts bay and the mother country, was passed for some time after the month of October, 1774, yet to all practical purposes, the authority of the crown and its officers terminated at the meeting of the provincial congress at Salem early in that month. The commissions of all officers appointed under the royal government were formally annulled by legislative act from and after the 19th September, 1775, and in the following month commissions were issued among others to judges of the superior court. These commissions were issued by the majority of the council, under the provisions of the province charter, for the idea of independence of the crown seems not then to have been openly entertained. By a subsequent act, however, the commissions thus granted were rescinded from and after the 19th of September, 1776, and all commissions granted after the 1st of June, 1776, it was provided, should be in the
Sketches of the Judicial History of Massachusetts. WOL. XXV.-NO. XLIX, 5
name of the “government and people of Massachusetts bay, in New England,” and to bear date in the year of the christian era instead of the year of the reign of the king of Great Britain, as had hitherto been done. The judges appointed in October, 1775, to the superior court, were John Adams, chief justice, William Cushing, Nathaniel Peaselee Sargent, William Reed, and Robert Treat Paine. The three last named declined the appointment, and Jedediah Foster and James Sullivan were commissioned in their stead. The first term of the court, which was held after the commencement of the revolution, was in Essex, June 28, 1776, “to the great joy and satisfaction,” as a writer of the day remarks, “ of every true friend to his country, order, and civil society, it being the first under the auspices of our new government.” It is not easy to conceive, at this day, the entire change through which the people of this commonwealth and many of her institutions of government had passed, in the interval of two years during which her highest tribunal of justice had been closed. It was not a change in the place or circumstances under which the court assembled, the same suitors and the same jurors who had formerly convened where they were now met, were there, the same dignity and solemnity were maintained by its officers, but every thing was done under the sanction of a new power. The name of his majesty was no longer heard, as the representative of that authority under which justice was to be administered, while “the people of Massachusetts,” for the first time, through their own official agents, assumed the name and the powers of the ministers of justice. Many of the brightest in the constellation of brilliant names, that distinguished the commonwealth at the time of the rupture with the mother country, had been driven from the sphere in which they had shone; but others, no less brilliant, were soon seen occupying their places, and with the establishment of a people's government, a learned and able judiciary was created as one of the safeguards of the people's rights. Under the royal charter very few, scarce exceeding half a dozen, if so many, of the judges of the superior court had been educated as lawyers. But under the constitution of the people, two only have ever held that office who were not schooled in that course of study and discipline, which can only be had in a due preparation for the duties and practice of the bar. In noticing those who were commissioned as judges of this court, the first, in order of time, is John Adams, who held the office of chief justice for some time, though his public duties in other departments of government prevented his taking his seat upon the bench. It is not proposed to speak of the life or services of president Adams, beyond his connection with the profession of which he was so distinguished an ornament. His public and political life would fill a space altogether incompatible with the brief notices to which we are necessarily confined. He was graduated at Cambridge in 1755, and studied law with James Putnam, in Worcester, where he engaged, for a time, in the business of teaching school; an employment in which many of the most distinguished members of the learned professions have at times been engaged in Massachusetts. He was admitted to the bar in 1758, and commenced the practice of his profession in Quincy, his native town. In 1761, he was made a barrister, from which it appears that he took a commanding rank immediately upon being admitted to the bar. In 1765, he removed to Boston, and was one of the counsel in defence of the British soldiers upon their trial for the part they took in what is known as the “Boston Massacre,” in 1770. It is difficult to imagine, at this day, the degree of moral courage which was then requisite in an advocate, in order to engage in a cause where the popular feeling was so intensely excited as it was on that occasion. But the task was not only undertaken by Mr. Adams and his associate, but ably and nobly performed, and the verdict of acquittal, which was rendered by the jury who tried the cause, is one of the most memorable triumphs of justice over popular odium and prejudice of which there is any record extant. He early engaged in the political struggle that was growing up in the province, and entered with his whole soul into the contest. In 1774, he was appointed a delegate to the first contimental congress, and held that place when he was appointed chief justice of the court of Massachusetts. His letter, accepting this place upon the bench, was dated November 24, 1775, and is addressed to the deputy secretary of the council. Among other things, he says; “As I have ever considered the confidence of the public the more honorable in proportion to the perplexity and danger of the times, so I cannot but esteem this distinguished mark of the approbation of the honorable board, as a greater obligation than if it had been bestowed at a season of greater ease and security. Whatever discouraging circumstances, therefore, may attend me in point of health, or fortune, or experience, I dare not refuse to undertake this duty.” He, however, was detained in a more extended field of public usefulness, and never actually performed any of the duties of his office as judge, and resigned the place the following year. From that time his connection with the judiciary ceased. We only need to add, that he was of a middling stature and a full person; his manner of speaking was generally slow and deliberate, but when excited he expressed himself with great energy and effect. His mind was strong, his learning accurate and extensive, his ability as a speaker and a writer of a very high order, and his character in private life was above reproach. E. W.