Page images


Rodman's translation of the Commercial Code of France, 8vo. New-York. We consider this volume as a very valuable addition to the library of every liberal-minded lawyer. An opinion has been taken up in this country that the codes of France were formed altogether for the purpose of producing certain political effects, and that their authority and importance were, consequently, dependent upon the existence and power of the Napoleon dynasty. This impression is entirely erroneous. The fact is, that there is no system of laws in the civilized world so richly deserving that boasted title which has been assumed by the civil law, of The Public Reason" of Europe. The codes of the civil law were compiled, as is well known, by Tribonian and nine associates, from the former codes and ordinances. The pandects which accompanied them were digested from the decisions and opinions of the Roman lawyers by the same great civilian, with the assistance of seventeen others. The whole of that great work, which has for ages commanded the respect and obedience of the civilized world, and has even transfused its spirit into the legal institutions of those countries which refused openly to receive its authority, was compiled under an arbitrary prince, and in less than five years. The old systems of the French law had been gradually refined and improved by the application of the principles and authority of the civil law, and the labours of several of the most enlightened lawyers of modem Europe-of Emerigon, of Pothier, of Montesquieu, of 'Vain, and the Chancellor D'Aguesseau.

The three jarring and discordant systems of common law, or coutumes, which prevailed in different parts of France, were, after several centuries of amelioration, gradually coalescing into one more harmonious body. The ordinance of marine, compiled by order of the French government, in 1681, had, by its wisdom and ability, excited the admiration, and even, in part, procured its adoption, in most parts of the commercial world. The present learned Chancellor of New-York, when chief justice of that state, speaking of this ordinance, observed: “This code is not only very high evidence of what was then the general usage of trade, but, from its comprehensive plan and masterly execution, it has been respected as a digest of the maritime law of all the commercial nations of Europe." 3 Johnson. From these rich materials of jurisprudence the present code was formed. In imitation of the manner in which the civil code was compiled, a commission of six of the ablest lawyers of France, most of whom bad received their education, and had practised under the ancient regime, was appointed for the purpose of digesting a commercial code. This was completed in less than two years. When finished it was presented to the consideration of the several chambers of commerce in the great commercial cities, to the different commercial tribunals, and to the courts of appeal established in the several departments of the empire. All these bodies separately deliberated upon it, and apparently with the greatest bold

VOL. IV. New Series. 11

ness and freedom. Their discussions are collected in two large quarto volumes. According to the different genius and characters of the officers whu composed these tribunals, the most various alterations are proposed. Some comment upon the phraseology with all the minute accuracy of mere technical lawyers, others discuss principles and propose alterations with as much boldness of theory as Jeremy Bentham, or any of his school of legal free-thinkers. All this seems to be done, so far as it respects merely the rights of property and justice between man and man, with as much liberty, and with inuch more deliberation, than are commonly exercised in the discussion of any act in our general or state legislatures. Were it not for a most disyusting vein of personal flattery to the Emperor Napoleon, which runs through the whole, the reader would never for a moment suspect that these free and enlightened discussions had taken place under ihe dominion of a military despot.

Many of these alterations and suggestions were adopted upon a second revision by the original compilers, and, after having passed through these several stages of correction for about six years, the code was discussed in the council of state, and finally adopted by the legislative body in 1807. Thus has been formed an admirable system of commercial law, expressed with wonderful brevity and precision. As the French codes are the work, not of the despot, but of the natural representatives of the mind of the French people; we accordingly find, that in the overthrow of the power and establishments of Bonaparte, these are preserved, and still remain the law of the land. Almost every other branch of jurisprudence is of necessity, in some measure, of merely local application, but the rules of commercial law are either founded on general usage or deduced immediately from the principles of universal reason; and thus, to borrow the words of Sir William Jones, the greatest portion of the system is law at Westminster-Hall as well as at Orleans. Mr. Rodman's version is accompanied by the original French in the opposite page. Though this is very proper, and renders the volume more useful as a book of reference and authority, we confess, that for ourselves, we feel much more grateful for the version than for the republication. However famiJiar the reader may be with the French of Boileau and Voltaire, or eren with the language of conversation, he will soon find himself as much at a loss anyong the terms of French law, as a foreigner, however intimately acquainted with Shakspeare or Addison, would be perplexed by an English discussion on misfeasance, nonfeasance, bottomry, or bailment. His version is executed, so far as we have observed, with great fidelity, and all the elegance of which the nature of the work would admit. A very scrupulous grammarian might object to two or three slight gallicisms, but it is to be considered, that, as in a translation of this nature, precise accuracy is of much more importance than elegance, it was often necessary, where there is no English expression exactly analogous, rather to retain a French idiom, than to run the risk of conveying an erroneous impression of the sense of the original by a similar, but not precisely parallel, English phrase. To the translation are appended a number of notes by the translator, explanatory of the terms and provisions of the French law, or comparing it with our own law on the same points. They show much research, and are highly creditable to the author, both for matter and style.

Bartholemy Lafon, Esq. who some time since published a very excellent map of Orleans and Lower Louisiana, has lately issued the prospectus of a work to be entitled Urano Geography, the leading object of which is to prove that America was known to the ancients, a truth which he thinks demonstrable on the evidence of the hierographical signs of the celestial sphere. ile declares himself able to prove that the western hemisphere was the cradle of the demi-gods, and celebrated by the poets of ancient Europe ; that Medea distinguished these regions by her magic and her adventures; that Cepheus, Cassiopedeia, Andromeda and Perseus were all Americans! The learned gentleman intends, further, to show that America was the soil on which grew the golden apples of the Hesperides, and where the golden fleece was sought by the Argonauts. He contends that the poet Ovid was intimately acquainted with the scenery of our western country, and that in his Metamorphoses, lib. 7. v. 371—330. in the fable of Hyries and Phyllius, the cataract of Niagara is clearly, though in part allegorically, described.

In the course of this curious performance, Mr. L. declares himself able to prove that there was a time when the earth performed its annual revolutions in periods of 357 and 360 days, and when the equator corresponded to regions of the earth widely different from those which it now encircles.

The fourth of these great revolutions, he says, which changed the equatorial and polar spaces, began on the first day of the christian era, so that the earth has now revolved on its present axis and orbit for little more than 1814 years, at the commencement of which period it started in the first nodus of the constellation of Pisces.

Such is the general outline of an hypothesis which, by its novelty and superior boldness, puts to shame all those ingenious refinements by which critics have discovered the whole body of heathen philosophy in the 6th book of Virgil, and a complete system of physics in a Hebrew root, and, in our opinion, even far eclipses that swaggering paradox of Dr. Bentley, who is said to have maintained that the Iliad was nothing more than a Jewish allegory, and the blind bard himself no other than King Solomon.

Melshesmer's Catalogue of the Insects of Pennsylvania. 8vo. York, (Penn.) Pp. 60. This pamphlet, intended as the first part of a larger work, which, we regret to say, has never been completed, was published in 1806. Mr. M. is a respectable clergyman of the Lutheran church, who has for several years devoted a considerable portion of that leisure which he could snatch from professional studies and parochial duty, to entymological researches. He has in these inquiries extended the bounds of our knowledge of the insect kingdom, and enriched it with a number of new species. In the classification of his catalogue he has followed the system of Fabricius, and in this first part of his projected work he has gone through and described the whole denominated by Fabricius, Eleuterata, nearly corresponding, as we believe, to the Linnæan Coleoptera. The region chiefly explored by Mr. M. was the district around Hano ar, or M'Allister's town, in which he has collected and examined no less than 1363 different species of insects, a very large proportion of which are entirely unknown to the entomologists of Europe.

Since the date of his publication a taste for every species of scientific pursuit has been rapidly evolved in many parts of our country, and we trust that he will no longer be deterred from promoting his researches by that chill neglect which has hitherto impeded the completion of this undertaking

Muhlenberg's Catalogus Plantarum Americo Septentrionalis. 8vo. Lancaster, 1813. The Rev. Dr. Muhlenberg has been long known as a zealous and successful cultivator of natural science. The present work is intended as a systematic scientific catalogue of the native and naturalized plants of North America. It is compiled, for the most part, from the author's actual observations on the living plants of Pennsylvania, and dried specimens which he procured from his correspondents in various parts of this continent. He has generally avoided the insertion of any plant of foreign origin not perfectly naturalized to our climate. His list of indigenous plants is of course very far from being complete, but it is probably the most ample catalogue which has yet been formed. It is evident from the slightest inspection of the work that a great deal of botanical information is here compressed into a very narrow compass. Each page is divided into five compartments, which contain, successively, a description of the calix-the corolla--the Linnæan or other scientific name—the English or the vulgar name--and, lastly, the time of flowering, and native place of growth. By the aid of certain arbitrary characters and abbreviations he also inforins his readers, in a sort of scientific shorthand, whether the plant is frutescent, whether indigenous or exotic, annual or perennial.

The volume is published in no very splendid style, and the learned author, together with the industry and love of knowledge of his German ancestors, has inherited some share of their tolerance of bad paper and slovenly printing. The work is nevertheless of much greater utility and value than many far more splendid publications.

We have not the honour of any personal acquaintance with the clergy of the German churches of Pennsylvania ; but we cannot refrain from adding that this, with the work above noticed, and some other papers of a similar nature, have impressed us with a very high respect for the ardour and application which several individuals of that hody have manifested in the cause of science. They have engaged in different literary and scientific pursuits with the greatest zeal and industry, without patronage, almost without the stimulus of learned society, and with little public sympathy or curiosity to excite or applaud their labours.

Dr. Mitchill, professor of natural history in the college of physicians in New-York, is engaged in preparing for publication a work on the natural history of the fishes of New-York. This will include almost every variety of fish which frequent the American coast, or inhabit the rivers and streams of this continent. It is an untrodden field of investigation, and the learned professor can derive little assistance from the European ichthyologists. He must depend upon his own observations and industry. We have seen the first sheets of his book, and so far as he has proceeded he has executed the work in the most satisfactory manner.

Dr. Mitchill seems about to perform for the ichthyology of his country what Wilson has done in its ornithology. It is to be regretted that the doctor is not enabled by public patronage to call in the aids of the arts, and, by accompanying his descriptions with accurate and highly finished engravings, to present the lover of the fine arts and of natural story with a proper companion to the splendid volumes of Wilson.

Dr. Bigelow of Boston has just published, in one volume 8vo., his Flora Bostoniensis, being a scientific catalogue and description of the native plants of the country adjacent to Boston.


Royal Society. -A short paper, by Mr. A.CARLISLE, was read on monstrosities; as an appendix to his remarks on Zerah Colbouru; the purport of which was, that both sacred and profane history record examples of hereditary moustrosity, particu larly in supernumerary fingers and toes; and that these extra appendages are gene. raly attached to the outer side of the hands and feet, very rarely to the inner, and almost never to any other limb.

The doctrine of animal heat, or rather the comparative heat of arterial and veDous blood, has occupied the attention of Mr. John DAVY, who communicated the result of his labours in this department of science to the society. The experiments of Crawford being performed at a time when the process and means of analysis were much less perfect than at present, it is necessary they should be repeated before they can be received as correct results in the actual state of our knowledge. Mr. Dary operated on the blood of sheep and lambs; and the detail of his experiments will be read with more pleasure, from the consideration that no animal experiensed any pain from his researches de began by depriving arterial and venous blood of fibrine, ascertaining their specific gravity, the former being 1047, and the latter 1050, placing them in glasses of equal dimensions, filling a similar glass with water raised to the same temperature, and observing their relative rate of cooling. In different experiments he found arterial blood 93 7-10, and venous 92, a result alto. gether incompatible with the theory of Crawford, but reconcilable with that of Dr. BLACK, or the opinion of Mr. BRODIE The posterior portion of the brain he found from 1 to 2 degrees higher than the anterior, and both were as much lower than the rectum The heat of the body generally diminishes in proportion to the distance from the heart. (This fact is not very consistent with the notion of the nerves occasioning animal heat, as its focus is not very replete with nerves.) In general the temperature of arterial blood was from 1 to i 1-2 degrees higher than that of Penous; only one degree was observed between the heat of the blood in the left and right ventricle of the heart. A newly-born child raised the thermometer to 96; after three days it rose to 99. Mr. Davy also made a variety of experiments on all parts of the body, with a view of.ascertaining their relative heat; he avoided all theoretical speculations, but seemed somewhat inclined to the supposition of Dr. Black, respecting the origin of animal heat.

Dr. SPUrzheim, the colleague of Dr. GALL in his Lectures on Craniology, is Dow in London, and about to commence a course of lectures on that novel subject. Hle purposes to publish a View of the Doctrives of Gall; and to illustrate the work with numerous engravings, made from drawings of the skulls of criminals, and others in Germany and France. The subject merits notice, but its deductions appear to us to have been made with those over-sanguine feelings that usually characterize new discoveries. Dr. S. is an Austrian, and enjoys considerable reputation at Vienna as a man of learning and science,

A work is announced by subscription, entitled Roman Costume, from the latter period of the Republic to the close of the empire in the East; by a graduate of the university of Oxford, and F. S A. The valuable discovery of paintings and bronzes by the excavations at Herculaneum, afford authentic originals for the dress at the beginning of the empire. The column of Trajan presents many specimens in the commencement of the following century, as does that of Antonine for the middle of it The arch of Severus begins the succeeding one; that of Constantine the next; and the column of Theodosius the middle of the following one. Other pieces of

« PreviousContinue »