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and cultivated millions of our enterprising population swell the tide of their numbers, and enlarge the bounds to which their arts, arms, freedom, industry, and religion extend. And we rejoice, therefore, that the profession possesses so able a reporter of the decisions of this court, himself a distinguished member of its bar, adding to the legal acquirements, commonly gained by eminent counsel in this country, an intimate knowledge of those branches of maritime and constitutional law, which are more peculiarly the subject of discussion in the federal courts; and, besides, ornatus uberrimis artibus, versed in the refinements of a tasteful and elegant literature.

New York and Massachusetts were the first of the American states, which, (in the same year, 1804,) revived the ancient system of causing those judicial decisions, which established important principles of law, to be published under the authority of government; and they have reaped the fruit of this enlightened policy in acquiring the valuable series of Reports, of which the two last volumes are now before us, from the hands of Mr Johnson and Mr Tyng. These publications have signally answered their main purpose, and have served to fix the construction of statutes, to authenticate the doctrines of expository law, to rescue them from the fallacious and uncertain guardianship of tradition, and to diffuse sound notions of individual and public rights through their respective states. They are cited also with respect, as exhibiting the opinions of wise and learned men, where they have no authority as a legal precedent, and they have thus exercised a useful influence far beyond the limits of the states wbich they control. The present volume of the Massachusetts Reports contains a very unqualified attestation of the merits of Mr Johnson, accompanied by a well deserved encomium on the court, whose decisions he reports, pronounced by chief justice Parker. We are in the habit,' he observes, in delivering the opinion of the court, in the case of Packard vs. Richardson, of showing great respect to the decisions of the supreme court of that state (New York); for that bench, ever since we have been enabled to judge of its character by the masterly Reports of Mr Johnson, has been distinguished by great learning and uncommon legal acumen.'* With some inequalities in the execution of the different volumes published by these veteran reporters, they all contain a faithful representation of the facts in each case, and the judgment of court thereon, with the reasons on which the judgment was founded. Mr Tyng has not given a sketch of the arguments of counsel so generally as Mr Johnson ; but in important cases, they both pursue much the same method of reporting, and the method which in such cases, as remarked by us in a former article, we think decidedly the best, which is, to give a succinct statement of facts agreed or stated in pleading, the points made and authorities cited at the bar, and the opinion of the court at full length. After having each reported a larger number of cases than any other American author, and larger than any Englishman excepting Sir Edward Hyde East, and the younger Mr Vesey, they have now closed their useful labors, and we sincerely hope they may find the evening of life as happy to themselves and to their friends, as its noontime has been serviceable to their profession and to their country.

* Mass. Reports, XVII. p. 137.

We do not undertake to lay before our readers any account of the adjudged cases reported in these volumes. Each contains cases of uncommon interest, which, whether we regard the research and ingenuity displayed at the bar, or the acuteness, discrimination, and sagacity exercised by the court, will richly repay the student for all the labor of the closest examination; and with such cases every liberal practitioner will hasten to make himself acquainted. No lawyer, therefore, who aims at anything above mediocrity, would thank us for an attempt to select or abridge what he must be familiar with in its extended form. To other persons it would present a dry repast; since there is but a small portion of the law, and that not the most important, which will bear the process of transmutation into light reading, or can be usefully transferred into the pages of a work devoted to the purposes of general science and literature.

The vast and increasing multiplication of reports, as well as law treatises, is a very remarkable fact in our legal history, which the publication of these three volumes in the last year, and of several other English and American reports brings into view in a striking light. This, we are aware, has been a standing subject of complaint these many years, like the

national debt of Great Britain, and, like that, it has continued augmenting, in spite of the remonstrances of the wary and prudent, until it is no longer a factitious grievance or an imaginary burthen. An English judge, in the reign of Charles II, told the bar that the reports were at that time grown too voluminous ; for when he was a student, he could carry a complete library of books in a wheelbarrow; but that they were so wonderfully increased in a few years, that they could not then be drawn in a wagon. He might have gone but one generation back, and found the reports comprised in a score of volumes, and the treatises hardly more numerous, when, as Jenkins informs us, the only elementary books used were Littleton, Perkins, St Germaine, Brooke, the old Tenures, Fitzherbert, the old Natura Brevium, Finch, the Law Lexicon, and Dyer. Fuller, concerning whom one of his enemies said in a string of puns, whose scribbling pen is fuller of scandal than modesty, whose head seenis owl like, fuller of folly than wit, and whose words are fuller of falsehood than of truth,'—has left a quaint quibbling passage yet more to the point in the Worthies of England.

'I can but admire,' says that eccentric writer, at the comparative paucity of the books of our common law, in proportion to those written of the civil and canon law. Oh! how corpulent are the

corpuses of both those laws! Besides, their shadows are far bigger than their bodies, their glosses than their text ; insomuch that we may bury two thousand pounds and upwards in the purchase, and hardly compass a moiety of them; whereas, all the writers of the common law, except they be very much increased lately, with all the year books belonging thereunto, may be bought for threescore pounds or thereabouts; which with some men is an argument that the common law embraceth the most compendious course to decide causes, and by the fewness of the books is not guilty of so much difficulty and tedious prolixity as the canon and civil laws. Yet it is most true, that common law books are dearer than any of the same proportion. Quot libri tot libre holdeth true in many, and is exceeded in most of them.'

The last clause of this extract is as sadly true now as it was then ; but we fear the common law in our day is fallen away from any merit, which it might once have claimed, on the score of the narrow compass in which it was comprehended. It is stated by Mr Hoffman, that several thousand volumes of law treatises, and no less than six hundred volumes of reports have been published in England since the accession of the second Edward. (Syllabus of Lectures.) Whether this computation be exaggerated or not, we have no means of ascertaining with certainty ; but, including in it a few broken reports and some few reports of important single cases, we imagine it may be tolerably accurate. And in our times, when the common law is applied to the concerns of the shifting multitudes of a polished commercial people, whose interests embrace the whole range of the globe, and are affected by a diversity of passions, relations, and circumstances unparalleled in any preceding age of their history, an accelerated increase is given to the redundancy of reports, which annually issue from the presses of England. But it is in our own country, where there are so many independent sovereignties contributing to the multiplication of reports, and where every well read lawyer must keep up with the progress of legal knowledge in every department of it, and on both sides of the water, that the subject appears to demand the most serious attention. Previous to the year 1804, but eight volumes of indigenous reported cases had been printed in America; and the lapse of only one fifth of a century has added to the number one hundred and ninety volumes, exclusive of many valuable reports of single cases. Of these, eighty nine volumes and part of a few others are occupied with the decisions of the state courts of Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania. Reports have been published in fifteen states, and in eight of them there is a reporter appointed and commissioned by the public authority, in addition to the reporter of the decisions in the Supreme Court of the United States. (Griffith's Law Register.) Whither is this rapid increase of reports to lead us, and what are to be the end and consequences of it? If year after year is to be thus prolific of its annual harvest of reports, we do not ask what fortunes will ere long be capable of compassing the purchase of a complete law library, but we ask what mind will be adequate to the task of storing up the infinite multiplicity of decided cases?

These cases are not all, it is true, authoritative; they are of very unequal value ; they consist for the most part of obvious applications of well known principles; and therefore it is not necessary nor desirable for the practitioner to study every case that may happen to be reported. But still, it is very convenient to find, that the position you wish to establish has been decided agreeably to your views, and for sufficient reasons assigned by some respectable court of law; and if your antagonist cites an adverse case precisely in point, which you had overlooked, your situation is at least a very awkward one, even although the case adduced be not of conclusive authority as a precedent in the court where you practice. Besides, the same point is not seldom differently considered in England and America, in Massachusetts and New York. In proportion as these discrepances multiply, the uncertainty of the law increases; and the only remedy then is to recur to first principles, to fix ourselves anew upon the eternal foundations of reason, the alleged • life of the law;' for otherwise the study of these contradictory decisions will serve only to bewilder and becloud, instead of aiding the understanding. Is there no means, then, of checking the progress of the multitude of 'flying reports,' to use the words of Sir Harbottle Grimston, which daily creep abroad; no means of withstanding the tide of indigested crudites,' which threatens, ere this age passes away, to deluge and overwhelm the ancient landmarks of the law ? Let us not be misunderstood. We do not weakly set about to call in question the utility of publishing select decisions of our law courts, which, in a system of jurisprudence where an adjudged case is not merely the opinion of wise and learned men, but also nearly as binding as a provision of the legislature, is undoubtedly of great and manifest advantage. Still less do we intend any reflection on works of so much intrinsic worth as the subjects of this article. Let not our language receive either of these interpretations. We simply mean to intimate a belief, that law reports are increasing so fast, that the benefit is becoming a very chargeable one, and to propose the fact as a thing for consideration, without attempting to indicate any expedients whereby to mitigate the evil, or to check the tendency of our system to abuse.

Whilst upon this subject, however, we feel tempted to submit a plan for clearing up much of the confusion arising from the multiplicity of reported cases, and diminishing the mass of the standard books of reports, by applying the prun

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