Page images

ster, and vested it in those of the Justice of peace; making him merely the witness to the mutual consent of the parties to the union, which was placed on the footing of a civil contract merely. It is probable, however, that the people themselves still adhered, from invincible custom, to the religious rites with which it had been usual to accompany this ceremony ; because, in the year 1656 the ordinance of 1653 was modified by leaving out the clause which declared all marriages, that had been solemnized in any other manner than as therein directed, to be void. - The forms requisite to give validity to a marriage, by the French, are well calculated to prevent, even more carefully than our marriage-act, the evil of clandestine unions. — The obligations arising from marriage, and the rights and respective duties of husband and wife, occupy the rest of this citle.

A subject which naturally follows the preceding, and forms the sixth title, is that of Divorce. While the matrimonial union was ranked among the sacraments of the church, it could not admit of dissolution except by the spiritual interference of the Holy See : but, in consequence of its change into a contract of a merely temporal nature, it may be rescinded by the civil authority. The causes of divorce are adultery ; excess, cruelty, or grievous injuries ; condemnation of one of the married parties to an infamous punishment ; and, lastly, the mutual and persevering consent of the parties, expressed in the manner prescribed by law. The complaint must be laid before the judge of the tribunal ; and, except for adultery or condemnation to infamous punishment, the divorce cannot be pronounced immediately, but the parties must undergo a year's probation, separated from each other's society: if, at the end of that time, they persist in their resolution, the tribunal is to pronounce the sentence. Divorce by mutual consent, without any of the foregoing causes assigned, cannot take place if the husband be under 25, or the wife under 21, nor before two years or after 20 years of marriage; nor unless authorized by their fathers or mothers, or other ascendants, whose consent is required for the marriage of parties under age.

Title 7th relates to the rights of Paternity and Filiation, and the eighth to Adoption. — These subjects, as well as those of Minority, Guardianship, and Emancipation, bear a great affinity to the rules of the civil law, from which many of them are borrowed. Such are the principal topics of the first book. The second, relating to things, is intitled of Property, and different modifications of ownership. The laws respecting the use and enjoyment of property, as they regard chiefly the particular modes of cultivation and tenure in France, do not afford any thing interesting to an English reader. '

Book III

· Book IIId and last is by much the most comprehensive. It comprizes the different ways in which ownership is acquired, including Succession, Testaments, Gifts, and, lastly, Contracts : but we shall spare our readers a repetition of what we have already noticed sufficiently in former articles.

The observation which strikes an English inquirer, on the perusal of this part of the Code, is that no distinction is inade in the rules which regulate the transfer or possession of real and of personal property. This is agreeable to the plan of the Roman law, and forms the most fundamental difference between that and the feudal law. It is not the least remarkable feature in our jurisprudence, though the natural consequence of the mixed sources from which it springs, that not more diversity exists between the laws of different nations than between those of our own country, as they relate to the descriptions of property which we distinguish by the denominations of real and personal. The modes of ownership, possession, and transfer, the succession, rights, and incumbrances of each, are governed by maxims not only entirely dissimilar, but often directly opposite to each other. It is foreign from our present purpose to discuss the merits or disadvantages of such a system, or to examine whether it would occur to a legislator to devise an original system of jurispru. dence after a similar plan: it certainly was, with respect to our laws, the effect of no such original design, but of accidental causes which, during the vigour of feudal institutions, made personal property of so little consequence as to be scarcely the object of legal regard. In the Roman law, the distinction between real and personal property, except in the term of prescription, is seldom discoverable, and the same principle of uniformity is adopted in the French Code, which recognizes no distinction in the legal qualities and incidents of the two kinds of property, except such as inseparably adhere to the nature of each.

We cannot dismiss this subject without noticing a topic which the present discussion naturally awakens. It is common to attribute the obscurity, delay, and expence of litigation in this country, to the multifariousness and variety of resolutions that constitute the law of the land ; which require a library to be ransacked on every question, keep the bulk of the community in ignorance of their rights, and oblige them to commit their interests blindly to professional guides, who are seldom agreed, and almost always dubious. It is a notion eagerly entertained by many, that the formation of a code in digest would remove all this obscurity and uncertainty, render the knowlege of law simple and accessible, and annihilate litigation. We do not concur in the extent of these expectations, nor believe that the Code Na


[ocr errors]

poleon, or any other code, ever will produce such an effect as to answer the hopes of those who are persuaded that nothing more would be necessary on every question that could arise, than to open the reformed digest, and find a solution of all difficulties. The Code Napoleon is only a summary of principles : but the application of these to particular cases, which forms the law to which Judges must appeal, will gradually accumulate, till in process of time, and by the fluctuations of society, the attainment of legal knowlege will be as intricate and ambiguous as ever. The chicanery of mankind, and the infinite combinations of circumstances, will give rise to questions on the import and construction of the articles of the Code; and the precedents established by decisions of these questions will thenceforwards constitute a necessary comment on those articles for the guidance of future judgments. Let us observe what has happened with regard to certain portions of our own law. The acts known by the names of the Statute of Frauds and the Statute of Distributions may be deemed particular codes, as applicable to the subjects which they concern. The first of these was drawn up with the most attentive care by the most correct lawyer of his own or any other time, Sir M. Hale ; yet it is well known to every professional man that the resolutions and authorities, according to which these acts are now interpreted, form a very voluminous collection.

It is, however, of no small moment to have a body of clear and well-digested principles to which we may resort ; and we do not think that the most prejudiced judges of the fallen dynasty will deny that the merits of the Code Napoleon ought to protect from entire reprobation the name which it bears.

The first volume of the work before us consists of an elaborate introduction by the translator, which contains an account of the most remarkable of the antient systems of jurisprudence, viz. the Jewish Law, the Ordinances of Menu, the Ta Tsing Leu Lee, the Zend Avesta, the Laws of Solon, the Twelve Tables of Rome, the Laws of the Barbarians, the Assizes of Jerusalem, and the Koran. Mr. Barrett has collected a great portion of learning on these several subjects; and we are sorry that our present limits preclude us from that examination of the Introductory Discourse, which it might well merit as an independant production.


Art. VIII. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of

London. For the Year 1813. Parts. I. and II. 4to. 145. and 18s. Nicol and Son.

Chemical and PHYSIOLOGICAL Papers. Part I. On a new detonating Compound, in a Letter from Sir H. Davy,

LL.D., F.R.S., to Sir Joseph Banks, Bart., P.R.S.-During the autumn of 1812, Sir H. Davy received, from a correspondent in Paris, an account of a new detonating compound, of extraordinary violence, which had been discovered in that city; and which was said to be a mixture of chlorine and azote, and to assume the appearance of a heavy oil : but nothing was stated respecting the manner in which it was to be formed. The author immediately instituted a variery of processes for the purpose of procuring it; and he succeeded so far as to obtain an oily substance, which exploded violently on the application of heat, by exposing a quantity of chlorine to a saturated solution of the nitrate of aminonia. The explosion was so strong as to have produced a serious accident to the operator; and one motive, which induced Sir H. Davy to publish an account of the investigation in so early a stage of it, was, as he informs us, to put other chemists on their guard against its dangerous effects. The substance is described as resembling olive-oil in its colour and appearance, but having much greater specific gravity ; its smell is nauseous, and it is extremely pungent. It acts with violence on both the expressed and the essential oils ; ether and alcohol act on it more slowly ; it is decomposed by phosphorus under water, converts mercury into corrosive sublimate, but has not much effect on tin, zinc, sulphur, or resin. The following observations exhibit the author's opinion of its nature, and the mode of its production, which,

it is almost unnecessary to remark, proceeds on his new hypo- thesis respecting the composition of the muriatic and the oxymuriatic acids :

. It seems probable, from the general tenor of these facts, that the new substance is a compound of azote and chlorine; the same as, or analogons to, that mentioned in the letter from Paris. It is easy to explain its production in our experiments: the hydrogen of the ammonia may be conceived to combine with one portion of the chlo. rine to form muriatic acid, and the azote to unite with another por. tion of chlorine to form the new compound. The heat and light produced during its expansion into gaseous matter, supposing it to be composed of azote and chlorine, is without any parallel instance, in our present collection of chemical facts; the decomposition of euchlorine, which has been compared to it, is merely an expansion of matter already gaseous. The heat and light produced by its rare. faction, in consequence of decomposition, depend, probably, on the F 3


same cause as that which produces the flash of light in the discharge of the air-gun.

The mechanical force of this compound in detonation, seems to be superior to that of any other known, not even excepting the ammoniacal fulminating silver. The velocity of its action appears to be likewise greater.'

Observations relative to the near and distant Sight of different Persons. By James Ware, Esq., F.R.S. -- It is here observed by this experienced and respectable practitioner, that the state of the eyes which produces short-sightedness seldom exists at birth, but generally comes on between the ages of 10 and 18, when it is at first noticed accidentally. In the lower ranks of life, in which persons are usually engaged in such occupations as lead them to exercise their eyes on distant objects, short-sightedness is a rare occurrence ; and when it does take place, as they seldom have recourse to the use of glasses, it is probablyovercome by the increased exertion which the eyes make to enable them to view objects that are remote. The higher ranks, however, immediately apply to the convex lens, and frequently to one of a higher power than is necessary to correct the de fect; so that the state of the eye becomes confirmed, or even increased. The subsequent observations seem to prove the truth of the author's conclusions :

- With regard to the proportion between the number of nearsighted persons in the different ranks of society, I have taken pains to obtain satisfactory information, by making inquiry in those places where a large number in these several classes are associated to. gether. I have inquired, for instance, of the surgeons of the three regiments of foot guards, which consist of nearly ten thousand men ; and the result has been, that near-sightedness, among the privates, is almost utterly unknown. Not half a dozen men have been discharged, nor half a dozen recruits rejected, on account of this imperfection, in the space of nearly twenty years : and yet many parts of a soldier's duty require him to have a tolerably correct view of distant objects; as of the movements of the fugleman in exercise, and of the bull's eye when shooting at the target ; the want of which might furnish a plausible apology for a skulker to skreen himself from duty, or to get his discharge from the service. I pursued my inquiries at the military school at Chelsea, where there are thirteen hundred children, and I found that the complaint of near-sightedness had never been made among them until I mentioned it; and there were then only three who experienced the least inconvenience from it. After this, I inquired at several of the colleges in Oxford and Cambridge ; and, though there is a great diversity in the number of students who make use of glasses in the various colleges, they are used by a considerable proportion of the whole number in both Universities; and, in one college in Oxford, I have a list of the names of not less than thirtytwo out of one hundred and twenty-seven, who wore either a hand glass or spectacles, between the years 1803 and 1307.'


« PreviousContinue »