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THE LAW MAGAZINE.
ART. I.-INTRODUCTION TO LAW STUDIES.
A Course of Legal Study, addressed to Students and the
Profession generally. By David Hoffman, Jur. Utr. Doct. Göttingen. Second Edition, re-written and much enlarged. In 2 vols. London and Baltimore, 1836.
It is a general opinion amongst our readers that we have already devoted more space to Mr. Warren's lucubrations than they are worth, and as his complete misconception of the nature and exigencies of the profession and the impracticability of his peculiar plan of study—the two radical all-pervading errors of his work—have been satisfactorily exposed, it certainly seems useless to proceed with a systematic review. Our more immediate object, therefore, is to introduce the enlightened American whose work is named at the head of this article, and then afford the rising generation the benefit of sundry promised hints and suggestions of our own.
The work Mr. Hoffman's most closely resembles is M. Dupin's edition of Camus, in which the course to be adopted by the legal aspirant is marked out, the various rights and duties of the practising advocate are explained, and the leading books on the codes or systems of almost every country in the world, known to possess a code or system, are enumerated. But there is this material difference-M. Dupin makes no pretension to a critical acquaintance with an immense majority of the authors named by him, and gives the student little or no aid whatever in making a selection from the mass. Mr. Hoffman, on the contrary, has evidently perused with care the va
VOL. XXI. NO, XLIII.
rious works comprised within the most comprehensive of his courses, and is consequently not merely prepared with information as to the comparative merit of any given publication as a whole, but can tell which parts, chapters or sections are most worthy of attention, and which it may be advisable to skip. For example, the contents of Coke's Reports are carefully distributed under the respective heads of real property, pleading, mercantile law, &c.; the precise point decided in each case being stated, and its bearings and consequences followed out. To establish the utility of a book of this kind it is only necessary to point attention to the range of subjects embraced, which may be collected from the following paragraph of the Proem :
“ The Common Law of England, which forms the great body of our own law, has its principal foundation in the feudal institutions. After acquiring the general principles of morals and politics, the next step is therefore to inquire minutely into these ; and after examining how far they were mingled in the law of England with a portion of the old Saxon constitutions, to pursue them through all the successive alterations which resulted from a change of men's opinions in matters of religion, government or commerce; in this investigation the authors recommended under the second title of the Course will be the best guides. The student may then contemplate these revolutions more nearly and critically in his consideration of the doctrine of Real and Personal Rights and their respective Remedies (which two titles comprehend the great body of the English common law), and of the law which obtains in the Courts of Equity; which last, together with the Lex Mercatoria, and the Law of Crimes and Punishments, are only great branches or divisions of the general law of England. Next succeeds the Law of Nations, followed by the Maritime and Admiralty Law, which is connected with the National Law on the one hand, and with the next title, the Roman Civil Law (from which it draws many of its principles and procedures, and which consequently becomes of importance to the English lawyer) on the other. Thus master of English Jurisprudence, the student may proceed to inquire in what points it is altered or modified in the Constitution and Laws of the United States, or in those of the respective states, particularly his own; and having fortified his mind with the principles of Political Economy, and borne these with him in his review of the natural and political resources of his own country (a study essential in a nation where the lawyer and politician are so frequently combined) should close his studious career with a due attention among other things to Rhetoric and Oratory, legal Biograghy and Bibliography; and lastly to the topic of Professional Deportment,”—vol.i. pp. 30, 31.
“Our object (he continues a little further on) in the following Course, is to produce a learned and accomplished lawyer; and, , perhaps, we may say, to aid the researches of the counsellor, the judge, and the statesman. We have selected, with our best judgment, from an infinitude of works in every branch of the science, and have in no instance recommended a single work, or even chapter, or page, which could with propriety have been omitted. The course, we acknowledge, is extensive, but can be thoroughly accomplished, we compute, in six or seven years, making due allowance for other necessary reading,"
Rightly judging, however, that six or seven years are more than many will have either the ability or inclination to devote, he has designated by a peculiar mark such books as may be ejected from the course, leaving enough to occupy four years“a period,” he adds, “surely not too long to give just grounds for confidence in the young practitioner;” and “ that the different views of students on this subject may be still farther gratified,” he has also designated a three years' course to be formed by ejecting another set of publications. Still, notwithstanding all this laudable readiness to humour the degenerate habits of his contemporaries, Mr. Hoffman appears to us to have a far better chance of succeeding in his secondary or ancillary object than his principal one. His book is admirably adapted to aid the researches of the counsellor, the statesman and the judge, but it is not precisely that description of manual which we should place in the hands of a tyro to prepare him for the study of the law. The late Charles Mathews used to tell a story of a hackney-coachman spreading the flaps of his coat before the heads of his horses whilst
fat woman was entering his coach, a manæuvre which he justified on the ground that he should not get the animals to move a step if they became aware of the extraordinary burthen to be imposed upon them. Upon the same principle, we would rather not inform the most energetic student at the outset, that the perusal of so large a number of books will be required to enable him to discharge his professional duties with entire satisfaction and security. Neither do we exactly see how a student can be expected to appreciate the critical acumen, or profit by the learned diligence, displayed by the author in a comparison of Mr. Fearne’s notions of contingent remainders with Mr. Cornish's (vol.i. pp. 240—263, where a very high compliment is paid to our lamented friend), or in such statements of the points of cases as the following:
Chudleigh's case.—“This case is important, as it argues and maintains the much controverted doctine of scintilla juris, and of the destruction of contingent uses, by divesting this possibility of a seisin."
Mildmay's case. .“ Of the consideration requisite to raise an use in a covenant to stand seised, or a deed of bargain and sale."
And so on through the best of the Reports, ample references to the modern cases and text books bearing on the topic being uniformly annexed. In fact, the only portion of this book which a young man just fresh from the University could even follow with facility, are the Proem and the analytical accounts of books and authors familiar in our mouths as household terms-Seneca, Aristotle, Xenophon, Quintilian, Grotius, Vattel, Puffendorf, Paley, Adam Smith, Beattie, Hume, Bacon's Advancement of Learning and The Hero of Balthazar Gracian, (which actually stand cheek by jole under the head of professional deportment), Cicero's Offices, and The Bible--which heads the course and occupies the first fourteen pages. The following resolutions, also, are certainly not open to the objection of technicality, though it may be doubted whether any beneficial result has been produced by them.
“I am resolved [Deo Juvente], 1. To have a scheme of life.2. To have a scheme of study.- 3. To live temperately.—4. To rise early.-5. To apply myself to study.--6. To oppose indolence, and never to postpone to the morrow the duty of to-day.-7. To take exercise..--8. To adhere to my hours for sleep.9. To be moderate in my amusements.-10. To note my daily deficiencies, and endeavour to correct them.-11. To avoid rigidly all studies on the Sabbath.---12. To preserve my health of body and mind, by a careful observance of all physical necessities and comforts.--13. To be moderate, but never mean, in my expenses.14. To guard my mind from idle thoughts and sensual images.