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WILLIAM FORSYTH, M.A., Q.C.,
STANDING OOtUSEL TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE IN COUNCIL OF INDIA,
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** Hominum peritoram responsa sunt nobis cognoscenda,"
Cic. EpisL Fragm. apud Nizolium,
STEVENS & HAYNES,
11, BELL YARD, TEMPLE BAR.
In 1814 a book was published called "Chalmers's Opinions of Eminent Lawyers;" and,notwithstanding its faulty aud inconvenient arrangement, and the quantity of useless matter with which it is encumbered, the work has always enjoyed a high reputation, and is still frequently consulted when cases occur involving questions of Constitutional Law. Lately an edition has been published in America. This is only what might have been expected with regard to a book which has made known to the world the legal Opinions, on many points of interest and importance, of such men as Lord Somers, Chief Justice Holt, Lord Hardwicke, Lord Talbot, Lord Mansfield, and others, given when they were the Law Officers of the Crown. Since then, however, there has been a complete silence and blank; and the Opinions of the Law Officers, given from time to time to the different Departments of the State during the last sixty or seventy years, have been consigned to oblivion, and buried in the dusty archives which have been practically inaccessible—
Urgentur, ignotique longd
The idea occurred to me that I should be doing good service, not only to the Profession to which I belong, but also to the Public, if I were to rescue some of the most valuable of these Opinions from their obscurity, and publish them with explanatory Notes. Slightly varying a line of Horace, we may surely say, "Vixere fortes post Agamemnona multi;" and, great as were the lawyers whose Opinions have been preserved by Chalmers, there has been a succession of lawyers siuce equally great, who may worthily compete with them in acuteness of intellect and depth of legal knowledge. In the present Volume will be found, for the first time, the official Opinions of Lord Lyndhurst, Lord Abinger, Lord Truro, Lord Denman, Lord Cranworth, Lord Campbell, Lord St. Leonards, Lord Romilly, Lord Westbury, Lord Cairns, Lord Chelmsford, the present Lord Chancellor (Lord Hatherley), Sir William Garrow, Sir Samuel Shepherd, Sir James Marriott, Sir Christopher Robinson, Chief Justice Tindal, Chief Justice Jervis, Mr. Justice Keating, Sir William Follett, Lord Chief Justice Cockburn, Lord Chief Baron Kelly, Sir Frederick Pollock, and others.
The labour and difficulty of collecting and arranging these have been greater than I am likely to get credit for. The Opinions of the Law Officers given to the Colonial Office down to a recent period are scattered over two or three thousand manuscript volumes which are kept in the Record Office; and there is no general index to assist the search. It would, in fact, have been impossible for me to bestow the time and endure the fatigue necessary to find them, if I had not had a clue to the labyrinth supplied to me by M. Halksworth, the Librarian of the Colonial Office. But this did not extend back earlier than 1813, and I was obliged, therefore, to limit my search to the period subsequent to that date. I regret this, as no doubt mucli valuable matter is to be found in the manuscript volumes of an earlier date; and I hope that the same arrangement for facility of reference which has been adopted in the later volumes will be applied to the older ones, although it will be too late for my own Work, unless it should have the good fortune to reach another editiou.
I have now the pleasing duty to perform of acknowledg ing the great kindness and assistance T have received in the course of my Work. To Earl Granville, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, I especially desire to tender my thanks, for the liberality and courtesy with which he assented to my application to be allowed to examine the archives, and publish the Opinions of the Law Officers in that Department. It was a thing for which there was no precedent; and if there had been a stiff adherence to official routine, I should have met with a refusal which, I venture to say, considering the value of the Opinions here for the first time made known to the world, would have been a public loss. I must express also my thanks to the Lords of the Treasury, for allowing me to select and publish some Opinions of the Law Officers; and to my friend, Mr. Greenwood, Q.C., Solicitor to the Treasury, for the kind assistance he rendered to me.
T regret that I cannot make a similar acknowledgment in the case of the Foreign Office. At the suggestion of high authority I wrote to the Earl of Clarendon a letter, which I am sure was unexceptionable in its tone, asking for permission—not to examine the archives of the Foreign Office, to which I felt there might very reasonably be an objection—but to be supplied with a few legal Opinions of old date, which could have no bearing upon any question in controversy at the present day. To my letter, however, I received no answer.
I must express my thanks .to Sir Frederic Rogers, the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, and to Mr. Henry Holland, the Standing Counsel to that Department, for their