also aimed at convincing students and junior practitioners, that they ought ever to regard the law as a whole-as one great system, of which the different departments of the profession-however distinct, may seem, on a superficial view, its members and their functions—are only parts : and that an enlarged and accurate acquaintance with all those parts, will open, elevate, and strengthen the minds of students and practitioners, and enable them not only to discharge whatever class of duties they may undertake, with superior efficiency, but indefinitely aug. ment the interest, and facilitate the acquisition, of legal knowledge.

With the present work is incorporated one which the author has for some years meditated offering to the public,—viz., an elementary and popular outline of the leading doctrines, and practice, of each of the three great departments of the law, Civil, Criminal, and Ecclesiastical. Some of these chapters-particularly those on Equity, Conveyancing, and Common Law-have cost him much labour; and he trusts that they will afford students a clear and correct idea of the subjects there discussed, and enable them to choose judiciously the particular department for which they may feel themselves most disposed, and best qualified. The author has constantly striven to select topics likely to prove interesting to students, and to invest those topics with such attractiveness in point of style and illustration, as lay within his powers. The entire work is written upon a plan which is designed to render it, in a great measure, independent of those continual alterations in the machinery and working of the law, which are so calculated to perplex and dishearten students and practitioners,—with a view, in short, to permanent utility. The author has at the same time endeavoured to give a brief and succinct account of the origin and progress of those changes which, after fifteen years' legislative and judicial exertion, have undoubtedly placed the administration of the law upon a new and more satisfactory basis.

Another object, which has been steadfastly kept in view, is, to demonstrate that these changes have not, nor could they have affected, the great REASONS and PRINCIPLES of the law : and hence the paramount necessity and advantage of aiming at an early and constant reference to principles, in the study and practice of the law. He whose mind is thoroughly imbued with legal principles, can never go far wrong in even the most sudden and difficult exigencies of practice: while the unprincipled lawyer—if we may be forgiven the expression—is continually floundering on into ridiculous, as well as fatal, error.—Two chapters have been devoted to an exposition of the existing state of the Common and Statute Law of Ireland -a matter of much more practical importance than is generally imagined ;-and of the nature of the law, as well as the recently altered mode of administering it, in Scotland. The author has also

[ocr errors]

availed himself freely of the valuable writings of those eminent American jurists, Chancellor Kent and Mr. Justice Story; with a view to illustrating some of the variations existing between our own and the American administration of the Common Law, which may suggest useful and interesting analogies and comparisons, to lawyers on both sides of the Atlantic,

With reference to the introductory chapters of the work, which are devoted to the general education of persons designed for the legal profession,—the author has bestowed great pains upon them, and hopes they will be found to contain suggestions useful to all classes of students, whether intending to become barristers, or attornies and solicitors ; but they are designed principally for the assistance of those who may feel conscious of falling far short of that superior and complete preparation, which has been obtained by others who have had the advantage of an University education. It is not expected, however, that any such person should sit down to peruse every book, or adopt the precise course of reading, suggested in the preliminary chapters of this work. Considering the different characters, habits, capacities, and qualifications of different persons, it is manifestly absurd to offer any particular line of study, for the implicit adoption of all classes of students.

The author has taken the trouble of collecting together much practical information, concerning all branches of the profession, which, he believes, is to be found in no other work; and has ventured to offer, towards the close of it, a few practical hints and suggestions concerning the conduct of business, which may possibly be found useful to both young barristers, and young attornies and solicitors. These suggestions are condensed into a very narrow compass, but contain the results of much personal observation and experience.

Students for the Bar, may rest assured, that notwithstanding the difficulty of fairly obtaining practice, occasioned by the fearful extent to which our profession is over-stocked, the persevering and systematic study of the principles of the law, is more necessary than ever, to secure any measure of real success, and affords absolutely the only chance of attaining eminence. Mediocrity and superficiality may suffice for securing, and even keeping for a while, by the aid of strong connection, an inferior position ; but profound learning, especially if coupled with eminent talents, and guided by discretion, is as likely as ever-possibly, at present, more so than everto urge on its possessor to distinction.

This work has cost its author the severe and unremitting labour, during every moment which he could spare from business, of the last twelve months : and if it shall meet, notwithstanding the errors and defects which may be detected in it, with the approbation of those persons of candour and judgment, whose opinion is decisive of the fate of every work submitted to the profession, and if it shall contribute effectually to assist students and others for whom it is designed, the author's exertions will have been abundantly rewarded, and he will feel that he has not altogether failed, in attempting to discharge some little portion of that debt which every man, says Lord Bacon, owes to his profession. *

King's Bench Walk, INNER TEMPLE,

20th July, 1845.

• Law Tracts. Vide Post, p. 758.

« ElőzőTovább »