Page images

mcthod of proceeding in the admiralty. Professional gentlemen in this country are generally deficient in their knowledge of this branch of legal science, and have access but to few sources of information on the subject. In chapter IV, the author treats generally of masters of silips, as acting for themselves, as representing their owners, and as carriers of the cargo laden on board. He has likewise collected the provisions of the general and state governments, relative to the transportation of citizens, and to the importation of aliens, paupers, and offenders against the laws of other countries. Chapter V. is on bills of lading, in which the author has well discussed the doctrine of “ stoppage in transitu.” From the cases, which he has diligently collected, it is evident, that a consignor has a right to arrest goods in their course, before they have come to the possession of the consignee, if they have not been paid for, or there is reasoable ground to fear the insolvency of the consignee. But as it would offend against common honesty, and might be injurious to commerce, if the consignor could prevent goods from coming to the possession of an assignee, to whom they have been transferred bona fide, and for a valuable consideration, it is now well settled, ascording to the final decision of the case of Lickbarrow against Mason, in the courts of Westminster, and is now “ the general opinion of lawyers, that such an assignment does give an absolute right and property to the assignee, indefeasible by any claim on the part of the consignor.” The VI. chapter contains an ample collection of the cases,

which relate to the carriage of goods, either by land or water. The VII. treats of the rights and duties of seamen. The subjects considered in the VIII, are freight, charterparty, and demurrage. In the IX, average and salvage. In the X, insurance. In the XI. bottomry and respondentia. In the XII. merchants, agents, factors, and brokers. In the XIII. partnership ; and in the XIV. bankruptcy. The appendix contains forms of papers used at the custom house, admiraity precedents, and policies of insurance ; together with a copious index of the principal matters in the volume. Every treatise on the law, must derive its value from the correctness and fidelity, with which the author collects and reports the principles and decisions, which belong to his subject. In analyzing and digesting the statutes of our government the author has exerted a very commendable industry. Compared with the size of the volume, and the variety of subjects which it contains, we regret, that he has been able to collect but so small a number of precedents, taken from decisions in our own country. Either we have not yet learnt the art of reporting legal adjudications, or else the occupation does not present, to those who are qualified for the office, a sufficient prospect of gain. In truth, while the unbounded rage for speculation, and the violence of party spirit universally occupy the minds of our citizens, our country will produce but few men eminent for literary accomplishment, and but few examples of professional excellence. In perusing this volume, we have not always subscribed to the legal opinions of the author, and

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The action of trover would not lie in behalf of one ship owner, where the common property had been sold by another, because the sale would not amount to a conversion of the property, as nothing would be conveyed by the sale, but . the share of the vendor. There is a distinction to be observed between joint owners and joint traders, or, as they are commonly called, copartners in trade, where each can by his act bind the society, “where each has the entire possession as well of every farcel, as of the whole,” and where therefore a sale or transfer by one will convey the interest of the whole. Mr. Cains has in another place (p.423) noted this distinction, observing of proprietors of a ship, that they are “tenants in common, and not joint tenants,” and wanting therefore “an essential characteristick in the constitution of a partnership concern.” The possession of a ship is not considered as proof of ownership ; and hence we infer, that when one ship owner undertakes to sell and transfer the common property, no more is conveyed than

the share of the vendor. The purchaser then becomes a tenant in common with the other owners for that share only, in the same manner as though the proportion pad been expressed in the deed of conveyance. “If two have jointly by gift or by buying a horse or an oxe, &c. and the one grant that to him belongs of the same horse or oxe to another, the grantee, and the other which did not grant, shall have and possesse such chattels personals in common.” Lit. Tenures, sec. 321. The provisions of law, relative to the evils which may arise among ship owners, are equal to any occasions, which may occur. If one, part owner, should run away with the whole property against the will, and without the knowledge of the rest, it would in moral contemplation be a fraud, though it might be impossible to pursue the actor as a felon. But as soon as he should come within the reach of the process of the admiralty, he might be compelled either to resign the property or to stipulate with his partners for their security. If we are correct in this point, the remedy which the admiralty provides is far superiour to any which could be obtained by the action of trover, or by any other of the comparatively slow forms of the common law. Should this book ever come to a second edition, we recommend to the author a careful revisal of this chapter, and beg leave to refer him to the learned note of Serjeant Williams on the action of trover, 2 Saunder's Reports 47., from which we extract the following observation : * If one joint tenant, tenant in common or parcener, destroy the thing in common, the other may bring trover. Co. Lit. 200 a. Therefore where one tenant in common

of a ship took it away, and sent it to the West Indies, where it was lost in a storm, this was held by King C. I. of the C. B. to be evidence of a destruction, and the jury under his directions found it to be so. Bull. N. P. 34, 35.” We sincerely regret, that the author was not more patient in digesting and arranging his materials into form and order. From the appearance of the work we are led to judge, that it is the juvenile production of a student, who mistook laborious compilation of notes for learning. Treatises of such magnitude are intended principally for reference and easy access ; on which account a lucid division of the subject is essential. But the doctrines and principles, contained under many of the titles in this book, are blended together, without form or comeliness. They remind us of the primitive state of things, described by the poets, as

“rudis et sine imagine tellus.”

The reader will be convinced of this, without comparing it with the celebrated treatise of Abbot “ on the Law relative to Merchant Ships and Seamen,” a work of standard authority, and as admirable for its style and manner, as for its legal correctness.

. The style of this work is by no means worthy of praise. The author sometimes affects uncommon elegance in his periods. In chapter IV., speaking of a law of Virginia, which forbids masters of vessels to carry any person out of that commonwealth, unless such person shall have first published, for six months successively in the Virginia Gazette, his resolution to depart therefrom, the writer adds, this foublick advertisement of the Virginia code is hardly comflatible with the locomotive rights of refubIican liberty.” (p. 136.) We are gratified with elegance of style, wherever it occurs, and do not think, that it is excluded from the most abstract legal subject. But passages like the above thrown into a book, the general character of whose style is rather below the plain,” have a fantastick appearance. Like the feast of a beggar, they serve to render the ordinary fare of the year still more disgusting. In concluding our notice of this work we would observe, that not to eachect fierfection is as just a caution, when applied to books, as to men. So far as charity is consistent with the moral progress of the human character, its observance is a precept of religion ; and so far as tenderness to the imperfect literary attempts of our countrymen will not tend to diminish the activity of their genius, and to foster the spirit of indolence, so delicious and so powerful, we feel bound to indulge it, in surveying the domestick publications of our country.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][subsumed]

high ; and if it should not be increased, will certainly receive no diminution, by the present publication. The Dr. treats his subject in a rational manner, and deduces from it the three following inferences : 1. That we are taught from it the separate existence of the soul after death. 2. That we may infer from it that the spirits of pious men were formerly, and may be still, on some occasions, employed as ministers of God’s providence in this world. 3. That we are warned by it of the guilt and danger which we incur, when we take indirect measures to learn the secrets of Providence, and the events of futurity.

In his second inference, the Dr. is supported by the authority of the best English divines, who attempt to prove, on scriptural grounds, the existence of angels, and their occasional interference with the concerns of men. Milton, who was no despicable theologian, carries the idea still farther, and supposes that malignant, as well as benevolent spirits, are active though invisible agents in this lower world.

Spirits, when they please,
Can exccute their airy purposes.
And works of love or cninity fulfil.

The style of this discourse is neat and perspicuous, and we shall subjoin an extract, in which the Dr. exposes, with great good sense, the folly and danger of giving credit to village conjurers and pretended adepts in the black art.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

THE translator or compiler of this piece of biography is a Mr. John Davis, who, we would inform our readers, as otherwise they would not probably know it, has published some poems, and a volume of travels through the United States. For what parts of this work we are indebted to the original genius of Mr. Davis, we are unable to discover, as he has left us no criterion, by which we can distinguish his own ingenuity from that of his author. We must consider the whole, therefore, as the work of Mr. Davis, since he has most heroically taken its responsibility upon himself. But let us hear Mr. Davis in person. “I am not the negative translator of the book, that has been put into my hands. I have felt an ardour to supply a work, that should gratify inquiry, and where I found the original wanting in information, I have made up the deficiency by laborious, patient, and persevering research. Hence my volume will not suffer by a comparison with the original, whose characteristick is detail.” Again. “If the moral character of the generals be developed, and the attractions of biography engrafted on history, the reader is indebted to the zeal, diligence, and inquiry of the translator.”

This is modest, still to call himself a translator, after these high claims on the approbation of the

« PreviousContinue »