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This Collection of Cases is prepared for the convenience of students in the Law School of Harvard University.
The head-notes are always, and the arguments generally, omitted.
As one of the main objects in the study of cases is to acquire skill and confidence in extracting the ratio decidendi, the omission of head-notes from a collection like this is an essential part of the scheme. To thrust before the eyes of a student of law the answer to the problem contained in a case is like telling a student in arithmetic the answer to his sum before he does it, with the additional disadvantage that the answer in the head-note is often wrong.
On the other hand, the omission of the arguments is an evil, but a necessary one. To have retained them would either have compelled the exclusion of many valuable cases, or else have swollen the size and expense of volumes already larger and more costly than I could wish.
With the exception of the head-notes and arguments, and of a few passages the omission of which is duly noted, the cases are reprinted literally from the reports; but I have striven after some consistency in the use of capitals and italics, and where a citation was obviously wrong, I have corrected it.
The book is intended for study, not for practice. That one who has carefully read these cases will find the volumes of considerable aid in after professional life, I have no doubt; but by one who has not thus become acquainted with their contents, the want of head-notes will probably be felt an invincible obstacle to their use.
Further, the reading of these cases, it should be remembered, is intended to be accompanied by oral instruction, and therefore they are without the comments which would, on so difficult a subject, be desirable, if the cases were meant for solitary study.
As any one will find who attempts to compile a collection of cases, it is hard to make it small enough. I have tried to limit myself to the leading and illustrative authorities, and in the few notes no attempt has been made at a full collection of the decisions, - indeed, no case is ever referred to without a distinct reason for calling attention to it.
A special difficulty in dealing with the law of property, and particularly of real property, is to determine how much to dwell on parts of the law which have now become practically obsolete. No two persons would probably decide this question in exactly the same way. I have endeavored to bear in mind, on the one hand, that a real knowledge of the law as it is, requires a knowledge of the law as it has been; and, on the other, that I am working for men who are preparing themselves to be lawyers, and not merely for students of the history of institutions.
For the parts of the law of which he treats and for which it was impossible or undesirable to give cases, I have had recourse to the terse and exact sentences of Littleton.
I desire especially to acknowledge the aid I have received from Mr. Leake's Digest of the Law of Land. This excellent book (unfortunately not finished) has met with less appreciation than it deserves.
J. C. G.
A. Lawful or Accidental .
3. Military Tenures and their Incidents
4. Socage Tenure
6. Abolition of Military Tenures .
Note on Tenancy in Capite
Note on Tenure in the United States .