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VERY shortly after the appointment of Lord REDESDALE to the Chancellorship of Ireland, the Editors of these Reports, attracted by that spirit of discussion which his Lordship introduced and uniformly encouraged, resolved, by a regular attendance in the Court of Chancery, to profit by so eminent an oportunity of acquiring information : nor was it long until the general wish of the profession, both in England and Ireland, to have his Lordship's decisions collected and preserved, induced them to attempt the office of arranging and publishing notes originally designed for private use alone. They now lay before the profession, the First Volume of their work ; and, without affecting to think that they have wholly failed in their design, they hope their claims to approbation may be tried, not by the rigour of strict critical justice, but by that candid and favourable indulgence, to which the desire of being useful (however imperfect the execution) is always entitled.
In truth, although in point of anxious diligence, the Editors cannot reproach themselves, and although they have been favoured with assistance the most valuable and the most flattering, they are far from having reached their own ideas of the perfection to which a work of this nature might be brought. Several defects have been discovered by themselves, too late for remedy: others, which have escaped them, will doubtless be noticed by the learned and acute reader: for these latter, they rely upon the kindness of the Gentlemen of the Profession, for a communication of such instances as may occur ; 'that, if practicable, the earliest opportunity may be taken to correct them.
Without laying down any invariable rules on which to proceed, the object of the Editors has been to report each Case in the form best suited to its circumstances. Although they have endeavoured always to detail facts as concisely as clearness and fidelity would allow, their statements, they are aware, in some instances run to a length that, if not necessary, would be unpardonable : yet they are persuaded that on careful examination they will be acquitted of haying, in any instance, lengthened or embarrassed the Report by the insertion of superfluous matter ; an imputation which they are particularly anxious to avoid. In stating the arguments at the bar, they have endeavoured to collect the substance of all instead of reporting each separately, in consequence of which they have been obliged in many instances with considerable reluctance) to abridge with great freedom; and to sacrifice to brevity, specimens of legal knowledge and forensic eloquence, which they would have felt a pride and a pleasure in recording. The judgment of the court, they have been cautious in attempting to compress; lest they should break that chain of thought and reasoning, without which the precise ground of the decision might be mistaken and obscurity frequently ensue. And, in general, they have subjoined either a copy or an abstract of the Decree or Order, as finally settled and entered in the Register's Book : this addition was made upon a suggestion entitled to their highest respect; and although not sanctioned by general example, they have no doubt will be acceptable.
In prosecuting their design, the Editors acknowledge, with gratitude, that they have received much valuable assistance. Their brethren of the bar have on all occasions contributed their aid, with a prompt and friendly zeal, worthy the enlightened Professors of a liberal science. The obliging alacrity with which such papers as the Edi. tors had occasion to call for, have been furnished by the Solicitors concerned, demands their sincere thanks : Nor can they omit particularly to express their obligations to the Deputy Register, and the Gentleman employed in his Office; whose ready attention at all times, very much facilitated their pursuit.
But above all, the Editors feel themselves obliged to the noble and learned Lord whose adjudications they record, for the encouragement and assistance with which he has honoured this undertaking. Even in the midst of those arduous and laborious duties which he discharged so ably and so conscientiously, his Lordship was pleased not only to notice their attempt, but, in some instances, to employ in a revision of their notes all that critical and laborious accuracy which was so peculiarly his own. Anxiously desirous to establish in Ireland a system of equitable jurisprudence, suited to the habits of the country, yet founded on the acknowledged principles of the Laws of England; whatever tended, however remotely, to advance that object, was considered not beneath his notice: hence it was that the endeavours of the Editors to render these Reports faithful, received his countenance and advice; and thus, in the minutest as well as the most important instances, were the labours of that consummate Lawyer and truly accomplished Judge, incessantly directed to accomplish the same great object. In Court, “ whilst his impartial attention secured to “ the honest suitor the full investigation of his claims, “ whilst his sagacity and patience took away from fraud “ all hope of impunity and all pretext for complaint,”* in the closet, no. opportunity was neglected to render his labours serviceable to the community as well as to the parties; to future times as well as to the present.
To be considered instrumental in a scheme of such extensive utility, would satisfy the warmest wishes of the Editors; how far they have succeeded, time and public opinion must determine. But although they should be disappointed in their hope of being useful to others, they will ever be sensible of the satisfaction and improvement which the attempt has afforded to themselves. So long as they live will they entertain a sentiment of grateful respect towards his Lordship" for the instruction they received in attending to the “ series of decisions, by which, during a period of four years, “ he advanced the science which they profess."*
June 30th, 1806.
* See the reply, by the Attorney General in the name of the Bar, to his Lordship's Farewell address, March 4th, 1806.