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nerian Professor of Common Law, Oxford, 1758-1766, M. P. for Hindon, King's Counsel, and Principal of New Inn Hall, Oxford, all in 1761, Solicitor to the Queen, 1763, M. P. for Westbury, 1768, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, 1770, until his death in 1780. He was the author of Great

Charter, and Charter of the Forest, Oxf., 1759, roy. 4to; Tracts, Chiefly Relating to the Antiquities and Laws of England, Lond., 1762, 2 vols. 8vo; again, 1771, 4to; Reports of Cases determined in the several Courts of Westminster Hall, from 1746 to 1749, Lond., 1781, 2 vols. fol.; a vindication of Addison respecting his misunderstanding with Pope, in the Biographia Britannica; and Commentaries on the Laws of England, Oxf., 1765-69, 4 vols. 4to; 23d edit. by James Stewart, Lond., 1854, 4 vols. 8vo; by R. M. Kerr, Lond., 1857, 4 vols. 8vo; by George Sharswood, Phila., 1859, 2 vols. 8vo. An

excellent edition.

"His purity of style I particularly admire. He was distinguished as much for simplicity and strength as any writer in the English language. He was perfectly free from all Gallicisms and ridiculous affectations for which so many of our modern authors and orators are so remarkable. Upon this ground, therefore, I esteem Judge Blackstone; but as a constitutional writer he is by no means an object of my esteem."-C. J. Fox: Debate on the Admission of Lord Ellenborough into the Cabinet.

His manner, remarks a late eminent authority, "is not the manner of those classical Roman jur ists, who are always models of expression, though their meaning be never so faulty. It differs from their unaffected, yet apt and nervous style, as the tawdry and flimsy dress of a milliner's doll from the graceful and imposing nakedness of a Grecian

statue."-JOHN AUSTIN.

"He [Blackstone] is justly placed at the head of all the modern writers who treat of the general elementary principles of law. By the excellence of his arrangement, the variety of his learning, the justness of his taste, and the purity and elegance of his style, he communicated to those subjects which were harsh and forbidding in the pages embellishments of polite literature."-CHANCELLOR KENT: his Com., i. 512, iv. 209.

of Coke the attraction of a liberal science and the

"Blackstone is not an authority in the law in the same sense in which Littleton or his commentator Lord Coke is. He has fallen into some errors and inaccuracies,-not, however, so many nor so important that the student ought to have his confidence in it as an Institute at all impaired. In fact, these errors and inaccuracies have been for the most part pointed out and corrected in the modern editions. As an elementary book, however, it may be enough to say that the whole body of American lawyers and advocates, with very few exceptions, since the Revolution, have drawn their first lessons in jurisprudence from the pages of Blackstone's Commentaries; and no more modern work has succeeded as yet in superseding it."— JUDGE SHARSWOOD: Blackstone's Com., 1859, i. xxi (Memoir).

ON THE STUDY OF THE LAW. We may appeal to the experience of every sensible lawyer, whether any thing can be more hazardous or discouraging than the usual entrance on the study of the law. A raw and unexperienced youth, in the most dangerous season of life, is transplanted on a sudden into the midst of allurements to pleasure, without any restraint or check but what his own prudence can suggest; with no public direction in what course to pursue his inquiries; no private assistance to remove the distresses and difficulties which will always embarrass a beginner. In this situation he is expected to sequester himself from the world, and by a tedious lonely process to extract the theory of law from a mass of undigested learning; or, else, by an assiduous entrance on the courts, to pick up theory and practice together, sufficient to qualify him for the ordinary run of business. How little, therefore, is it to be wondered at that we hear of so frequent miscarriages; that so many gentlemen of bright imaginations grow weary of so unpromising a search and addict themselves wholly to amusements, or other less innocent pursuits; and that so many persons of moderate capacity confuse themselves at first setting out, and continue ever dark and puzzled during the remainder of their lives.

The evident want of some assistance in

the rudiments of legal knowledge has given birth to a practice which, if ever it had grown to be general, must have proved of extremely pernicious consequence. I mean the custom, by some so very warmly recommended, of dropping all liberal education, as of no use to students in the law, and placing them in its stead, at the desk of some skilful attorney, in order to initiate them early in all the depths of practice, and render them more dexterous in the mechanical part of business. A few instances of particular persons (men of excellent learning and unblemished integrity), who, in spite of this method of education, have shone in the foremost ranks of the bar, afforded some kind of sanction to this illiberal path to the profession, and biassed many parents, of short-sighted judgment, in its favour; not considering that there are some geniuses formed to overcome all disadvantages, and that from such particular instances no general rules can be formed; nor observing that those very persons have frequently recommended, by the most forcible of all examples, the disposal of their own offspring, a very different foundation of legal duties, a regular academical education. Perhaps, too, in return, I could now direct their eyes to our principal seats of

justice, and suggest a few lines in favour of university learning: but in these, all who hear me, I know, have already prevented


Making, therefore, due allowance for one or two shining exceptions, experience may teach us to foretell that a lawyer, thus educated to the bar, in subservience to attorneys and solicitors, will find he has begun at the wrong end. If practice be the whole he is taught, practice must also be the whole he will ever know: if he be uninstructed in the elements and first principles upon which the rule of practice is founded, the least variation from established precedents will totally distract and bewilder him ita lex scripta est is the utmost his knowledge will arrive at; he must never aspire to form, and seldom expect to comprehend, any arguments drawn, a priori, from the spirit of the laws, and the natural foundations of justice.

Nor is this all; for (as few persons of birth or fortune, or even of scholastic education, will submit to the drudgery of servitude, and the manual labour of copying the trash of an office), should this infatuation prevail to any considerable degree, we must rarely expect to see a gentleman of distinction or learning at the bar. And what the consequence may be, to have the interpretation and enforcement of the laws (which include the entire disposal of our properties, liberties, and lives) fall wholly into the hands of obscure or illiterate men, is matter of very public concern.

The inconveniences here pointed out can never be effectually prevented, but by making academical education a previous step to the profession of the common law, and at the same time making the rudiments of the law a part of academical education. For sciences are of a sociable disposition, and flourish best in the neighbourhood of each other; nor is there any branch of learning but may be helped and improved by assist ances drawn from other arts. If, therefore, the student in our laws hath formed both his sentiments and style by perusal and imitation of the purest classical writers, among whom the historians and orators will best deserve his regard; if he can reason with precision, and separate argument from fallacy, by the clear simple rules of pure unsophisticated logic; if he can fix his attention, and steadily pursue truth through any the most intricate deduction, by the use of mathematical demonstrations; if he has enlarged his conceptions of nature and art, by a view of the several branches of genuine experimental philosophy; if he has impressed on his mind the sound maxims of the law of nature, the best and most authentic foundation of human laws; if, lastly, he

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has contemplated those maxims reduced to a practical system in the laws of imperial Rome; if he has done this, or any part of it (though all may be easily done under as able instructors as ever graced any seats of learning), a student thus qualified may enter upon the study of the law with incredible advantages and reputation. And if, at the conclusion, or during the acquisition, of these accomplishments, he will afford himself here a year or two's further leisure, to lay the foundation of his future labours in a solid scientifical method, without thirsting too early to attend that practice which it is impossible he should rightly comprehend, he will afterwards proceed with the greatest ease, and will unfold the most intricate points with an intuitive rapidity and clear


Comment. on the Laws of England, Introd.,
Sect. 1.


Law, in its most general and comprehensive sense, signifies a rule of action; and is applied indiscriminately to all kinds of action, whether animate or inanimate, rational or irrational. Thus we say, the laws of motion, of gravitation, of optics, or mechanics, as well as the laws of nature and of nations. And it is that rule of action which is prescribed by some superior, and which the inferior is bound to obey.

Thus, when the Supreme Being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, he impressed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and without which it would cease to be. When he put that matter into motion, he established certain laws of motion, to which all movable bodies must conform. And, to descend from the greatest operations to the smallest, when a workman forms a clock, or other piece of mechanism, he establishes, at his own pleasure, certain arbitrary laws for its direction,- -as that the hand shall describe a given space in a given time, to which law as long as the work conforms, so long it continues in perfection, and answers the end of its formation.

If we farther advance from mere inactive matter to vegetable and animal life, we shall find them still governed by laws, more numerous indeed, but equally fixed and invariable. The whole progress of plants, from the seed to the root, and from thence to the seed again; the method of animal nutrition, digestion, secretion, and all other branches of vital economy, are not left to chance, or the will of the creature, but are performed in a wondrous involuntary way, and guided by unerring rules laid down by the great Creator.

This, then, is the general signification of law, a rule of action dictated by some superior being; and in those creatures that have neither the power to think, nor to will, such laws must be invariably obeyed so long as the creature itself subsists, for its existence depends upon that obedience. But laws, in their more confined sense, and in which it is our present business to consider them, denote the rules, not of action in general, but of human action or conduct; that is, the precepts by which man, the noblest of all sublunary beings, a creature endowed with both reason and free will, is commanded to make use of those faculties in the general regulation of his behaviour.

Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator, for he is entirely a dependent being. A being, independent of any other, has no rule to pursue but such as he prescribes to himself; but a state of dependence will inevitably oblige the inferior to take the will of him on whom he depends as the rule of his conduct; not, indeed, in every particular, but in all those points wherein his dependence consists. This principle, therefore, has more or less extent and effect, in proportion as the superiority of the one and the dependence of the other is greater or less, absolute or limited. And consequently, as man depends absolutely upon his Maker for everything, it is necessary that he should, in all points, conform to his Maker's will.

his due; to which three general precepts Justinian has reduced the whole doctrine of law.

But if the discovery of these first principles of the law of nature depended only upon the due exertion of right reason, and could not otherwise be obtained than by a chain of metaphysical disquisitions, mankind would have wanted some inducement to have quickened their inquiries, and the greater part of the world have rested content in mental indolence, and ignorance, its inseparable companion. As, therefore, the Creator is a being not only of infinite power, and wisdom, but also of infinite goodness, he has been pleased so to contrive the constitution and frame of humanity, that we should want no other prompter to inquire after and pursue the rule of right, but only our own self-love, that universal principle of action. For he has so intimately connected, so inseparably interwoven, the laws of eternal justice with the happiness of each individual, that the latter cannot be attained but by observing the former; and if the former be punctually obeyed, it cannot but induce the latter. In consequence of which mutual connection of justice and human felicity, he has not perplexed the law of nature with a multitude of abstracted rules and precepts, referring merely to the fitness or unfitness of things, as some have vainly surmised, but has graciously reduced the rule of obedience to this one paternal precept," that man should pursue his own true and substantial happi

This will of his Maker is called the law of nature. For as God, when he createdness." This is the foundation of what we matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion, so, when he created man, and endued him with freewill to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that free-will is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws.

Considering the Creator only as a being of infinite power, he was able unquestionably to have prescribed whatever laws he pleased to his creature, man, however unjust or severe. But, as he is also a being of infinite wisdom, he has laid down only such laws as were founded in those relations of justice that existed in the nature of things antecedent to any positive precept. These are the eternal immutable laws of good and evil, to which the Creator himself, in all his dispensations, conforms; and which he has enabled human reason to discover, so far as they are necessary for the conduct of human actions. Such, among others, are these principles: that we should live honestly, should hurt nobody, and should render to every one

call ethics, or natural law; for the several articles into which it is branched in our systems amount to no more than demonstrating that this or that action tends to man's real happiness, and therefore very justly concluding that the performance of it is a part of the law of nature; or, on the other hand, that this or that action is destructive of man's real happiness, and therefore that the law of nature forbids it.

Comment. on the Laws of England, Introd., Sect. 2.

WILLIAM GILPIN, Vicar of Boldre and Prebendary of Salisbury, born 1724, died 1804, was the author of theological and biographical works, and Works on the Picturesque in Landscape Scenery and Gardening, etc., in a Series of Tours and Essays, with 187 aquatinta engravings, Lond., 11 vols. 8vo, 1782, and later.

"Gilpin has described in several justly-esteemed tours the Picturesque Beauties of Great Britain.

All his works abound with ingenious reflections, proper to enrich the theory of the arts and to guide the practice of them."-Biog. Universelle.


The first dawn of day exhibits a beautiful obscurity. When the east begins just to brighten with the reflections only of effulgence, a pleasing, progressive light, dubious and amusing, is thrown over the face of things. A single ray is able to assist the picturesque eye, which by such slender aid creates a thousand imaginary forms, if the scene be unknown, and as the light steals gradually on, is amused by correcting its vague ideas by the real objects. What, in the confusion of twilight, perhaps, seemed a stretch of rising ground, broken into various parts, becomes now vast masses of wood and

an extent of forest.

As the sun begins to appear above the horizon, another change takes place. What was before only form, being now enlightened, begins to receive effect. This effect depends on two circumstances,-the catching lights which touch the summits of every object, and the mistiness in which the rising orb is commonly enveloped.

The effect is often pleasing when the sun rises in unsullied brightness, diffusing its ruddy light over the upper parts of objects, which is contrasted by the deeper shadows below; yet the effect is then only transcendent when he rises accompanied by a train of vapours in a misty atmosphere. Among lakes and mountains this happy accompaniment often forms the most astonishing visions, and yet in the forest it is nearly as great. With what delightful effect do we sometimes see the sun's disk just appear above a woody hill, or, in Shakspeare's lan


Stand tiptoe on the misty mountain's top, And dart his diverging rays through the rising vapour. The radiance, catching the tops of the trees as they hang midway upon the shaggy steep, and touching here and there a few other prominent objects, imperceptibly mixes its ruddy tint with the surrounding mists, setting on fire, as it were, their upper parts, while their lower skirts are lost in a dark mass of varied confusion, in which trees, and ground, and radiance, and obscurity are all blended together. When the eye is fortunate enough to catch the glowing instant (for it is always a vanishing scene), it furnishes an idea worth treasuring among the choicest appearances of nature. Mistiness alone, we have observed, occasions a confusion in objects which is often picturesque; but the glory of the vision depends on the glowing lights which are mingled with it.

Landscape painters, in general, pay too little attention to the discriminations of morning and evening. We are often at a

loss to distinguish in pictures the rising from the setting sun, though their characters shadows. The ruddy lights, indeed, of the are very different, both in the lights and evening are more easily distinguished, but it is not perhaps always sufficiently observed less opaque than those of the morning. that the shadows of the evening are much They may be brightened perhaps by the which are incessantly reverberated in every numberless rays floating in the atmosphere, the sun is set; whereas in the morning the direction, and may continue in action after rays of the preceding day having subsided, no object receives any light but from the im

mediate lustre of the sun. Whatever becomes

of the theory, the fact, I believe, is well



born in Edinburgh, 1726, Lord Commissioner of the Justiciary, 1776, died 1792, was the author, among other works, of tories of Britain, Glasg., 1762-66, 2 vols. 8vo; Memorials and Letters relating to the HisSecret Correspondence of Sir Robert Cecil of Scotland, 1056-1370, Edin., 1776-79, 2 with James VI., Edin., 1766, 12mo; Annals vols. 4to; again, 1797, 3 vols. 8vo, and 1819, Edin., 1776-8-80, 3 vols. 12mo: Tracts Rel3 vols. 8vo: Remains of Christian Antiquity, ative to the History and Antiquities of ScotLords of Council and Session from 1776 to land, Edin., 1800, 4to; Decisions of the 1791, selected from the Original MSS. by M. P. Brown, Edin., 1766, 2 vols. 4to. He was the author of Nos. 140, 147, 204 of The World.

"A book [Annals of Scotland] which will always sell: it has such a stability of dates, such a certainty of facts, and such a punctuality of citation. I never before read Scotch History with certainty."

-DR. S. JOHNSON: Boswell's Johnson.

A MEDITATION AMONG THE BOOKS. From every thing in nature a wise man may derive matter of meditation. In meditations various authors have exercised their genius or tortured their fancy. An author who meant to be serious, has meditated on the mystery of weaving; an author who never meant to be serious, has meditated on a broomstick: let me also meditate; and a library of books shall be the subject of my meditations.

Before my eyes an almost innumerable multitude of authors are ranged; different in their opinions, as in their bulk and appearance in what light shall I view this great assembly? Shall I consider it as an

ancient legion, drawn out in goodly array under fit commanders? or as a modern regiment of writers, where the common men have been forced by want, or seduced through wickedness, into the service, and where the leaders owe their advancement rather to caprice, party favour, and the partiality of friends, than to merit or service? Shall I consider ye, O ye books! as a herd of courtiers . . . who profess to be subservient to my use, and yet seek only your own advantage? No; let me consider this room as the great charnel-house of human reason, where darkness and corruption dwell; or as a certain poet expresses himself,

Where hot and cold, and wet and dry,
And beef, and broth, and apple-pye,
Most slovenly assemble.

Who are they, whose unadorned raiment bespeaks their inward simplicity? They are law books, statutes, and commentaries on statutes. These are acts of parliament, whom all men must obey, and yet few only can purchase. Like the Sphynx of antiquity, they speak in enigmas, and yet devour the unhappy wretches who comprehend them not.

These are commentaries on statutes: for

the perusing of them, the longest life would prove insufficient: for the understanding of them, the utmost ingenuity of man would

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The sages of the law recommend this abridgment to our perusal. Let us with all thankfulness of heart receive their counsel. Much are we beholden to the physicians who only prescribe the bark of the quinquina, when they might oblige their patients to swallow the whole tree.

From these volumes I turn my eyes on a deep embodied phalanx, numerous and formidable: they are controversial divines: so has the world agreed to term them. How arbitrary is language! and how does the custom of mankind join words that reason has put asunder! Thus we often hear of hell-fire cold, of devilish handsome, and the like; and thus controversial and divine have been associated.


These controversial divines have changed the rule of life into a standard of disputation. They have employed the temple of the Most High as a fencing-school, where gymnastic exercises are daily exhibited, and where victory serves only to excite new contests. Slighting the bulwarks wherewith He who bestowed religion on mankind had secured it, they have encompassed it with various minute outworks, which an army of warriors can with difficulty defend.

The next in order to them are the redoubtable antagonists of common sense; the gentlemen who close up the common highway to heaven, and yet open no private road for persons having occasion to travel that way. The writers of this tribe are various, but in principles and manner nothing dissimilar. Let me review them as they stand arranged.

These are Epicurean orators, who have endeavoured to confound the ideas of right and wrong, to the unspeakable comfort of highwaymen and stock-jobbers. These are inquirers after truth, who never deign to implore the aid of knowledge in their researches. These are sceptics, who labour earnestly to argue themselves out of their own existence; herein resembling that choice spirit who endeavoured so artfully to pick his own pocket as not to be detected by himself. Last of all, are the composers of rhapsodies, fragments, and (strange to say it) thoughts. Thou first, thou greatest vice of the human mind, Ambition! all these authors were originally thy votaries! They promised to themselves a frame more durable than the calf-skin that covered their works; the calf-skin (as the dealer speaks) is in excellent condition, while the books themselves remain the prey of that silent critic the worm.

Complete cooks and conveyancers; bodies of school-divinity and Tommy Thumb; little story-books, systems of philosophy, and memoirs of women of pleasure: apologies for the lives of players and prime ministers: all are consigned to one common ob livion.

One book indeed there is, which pretends to little reputation, and by a strange felicity obtains whatever it demands. To be useful for some months only is the whole of its ambition; and though every day that passes confessedly diminishes its utility, yet it is sought for and purchased by all: such is the deserved and unenvied character of that excellent treatise of practical astronomy, the Almanack.

The World, No. 140, Thursday, September 4, 1755.

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