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THE HOUSE OF LORDS,
APPEALS AND WRITS OF ERROR;
DURING THE SESSION
BY RICHARD BLIGH, Esq.
BARRISTER AT LAW.
PRINTED FOR J. & W. T. CLARKE, LAW BOOKSELLERS,
It is now twelve years since the Editor of these Reports began to take notes of the arguments and judicial opinions delivered in Appeal Cases in the House of Lords. Many causes have concurred to delay the publication of the matter collected in the course of his attendance since the year 1811. The want of experience, and the fear of intruding upon the publie an unfaithful or unworthy memorial of those important decisions which (judicially) constitute irrevocable law, were not least or lightest of the motives for pause and deliberation. But the sudden: appearance of other Reports surprised the Editor, in the midst of his doubts, adding accumulated weight to existing objections; and if he could have satisfied himself as to his competency for the arduous duties of a Reporter, he felt an invincible repugnance to enter into a competition which was at once useless to the public, and degrading to his profession.
After the appearance of these unanticipated Reports, the half formed design of publication was suspended; but the Editor continued his labour of collection and private record with a view to future contingencies. The discontinuance of the former Reports, as unexpected as their commencement, and applications on the part of the bookseller, led to a renewal of the suspended project of publication.
Into the general question of the use and abuse of law reports the Editor is unwilling to enter, although his mind is not unaffected by the common desire to have the reputation of being engaged in a useful occupation. If law, having attained its perfection as a science, is stationary; if being exempt from the condition of all human things, it is unaffected by the impression of external circumstances, and yields nothing to the change of manners and opinions, or to the more pressing exigency of the necessities of human intercourse, Reports are now, and have for many ages been, useless. But if new rules of law arise out of new
combinations of fact ; if old rules are modified or changed for the purpose of being adapted to the corresponding changes of society; if there is, among the doctrines of law, sufficient uncertainty to admit of a latitude and diversity of opinion among those who preside in the courts of judicature and administer the law; these are matters fit to be known, and of too much practical importance, in the administration of human affairs, to be overlooked or neglected; for they may concern the life, the fame, and the fortune of every individual in society. In this view Reports have a definite use ; whether they are to be considered as monuments of the law, as materials for essayists, or as the fleeting indices of variations in the judicial atmosphere.
Reports of cases settled by frequent adjudication, of decisions incapable of application, and even of new cases incumbered with unnecessary details of facts, arguments and opinions, which add much to the bulk, the intricacy and expense of the work, and nothing to its value, will hardly require the censure of the critic. The apparent inutility of such works must speedily bring them to the level