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of the United States. Some subsidiary subjects will be appended, as legal biography and bibliography, forensic eloquence, and professional deportment. Mr Hoffman's pretensions are modest. He diffidently dedicates his book 'more especially to students,' who, he remarks, if they find no more in these volumes, will at least see pointed out to them the purest sources of information in the different departments of the science.' The nature of the topics discussed in this first volume has induced him to treat them in a more diffuse method, than will be observed in the remaining ones; and the whole, he hopes, may serve as an introduction to Blackstone's Commentaries, and to those of Chancellor Kent on American Law. So far as he has proceeded, the author has much more than accomplished the objects thus modestly proposed. His forthcoming volumes will complete, in our opinion, a very valuable accession to elementary legal works, so far as we may infer from the learning and the clearness with which, in that under review, he has discussed various questions of interest in ethics and natural jurisprudence, whether regarded in themselves, or in their bearing on municipal and international law.
In his exhortations to the study of ethics, natural law, universal jurisprudence, or by whatever other name it may be called, Mr Hoffman duly appreciates the informing and controlling influences of right reason, even in a technical aud somewhat arbitrary science. It is often objected to the study of our municipal jurisprudence, that, not always depending on natural principles of reasoning, and reposing, in a great degree, on precedent and decision, it fetters, instead of enlarging the mind. Men may certainly study and practise law (and doubtless not a small number do), who know no other reason why a contract should bind, than its being in writing or duly proved, and whose idea of obligation is an instrument under seal, or an agreement upon some consideration. As there are many able accountants, who know nothing of transcendental mathematics, and many skilful workmen equally ignorant of mechanics; so are there many clever attorneys that drive a good business, who may marvel to see Mr Hoffman beginning legal education at so remote a point as the nature of man. The point is certainly not necessary for gaining a suit, nor need we quarrel with those who think it therefore useless. But when the question is about forming able advocates, wise judges, and perspicacious lawgivers, it is plain that this ordinary education will VOL. XXX.—No. 66.
do no longer. When the file affords no precedent; when we are to travel out of the record; when the index presents no case in point; we are obliged to revert to first principles, and spin for ourselves that thread of ingenious deduction, which is not ready made to our hands. It is this kind of legal education that our author contemplates in his different publications, and in the work under review. Students will fill up his outline with more or less diligence. Many (for the world is not full of capacious geniuses) will slight these elementary and auxiliary studies; perhaps he himself expects few disciples of that constancy of purpose and enlarged ambition, which he would prompt and aid. The standard of science however, like that of morals, ought not the less to be set forth, because the greater part of persons inay be confidently expected to fall short of it; and we are well assured, that such as explore the paths he has indicated, will neither find that they lead too far, nor fail to gather intellectual force and vivacity from the excursion.
The present volume will not be without some attractions, however, of a general nature. While it enables the law student to push his researches in a just order, and with the least waste of his energy, it may answer the different purpose of satisfying the curiosity of cursory readers on a number of interesting topics in ethics and universal law. There will be many of this sort, who, prevented from seeking the fountains from which the author has drawn, will be glad to contemplate their streams thus collected in a reservoir. Numbers read Blackstone's Commentaries with pleasure and profit, who would be appalled at the thought of mastering the tomes of black letter, which swell the knowledge, and please in the beautiful method, of those delightful volumes. And so, while the law student will learn to estimate from this work the importance of questions of natural jurisprudence, and their intimate influence on those parts of the science which are positive or conventional, others will be content to limit their inquiries into these subtile topics, by the work itself. Among these topics there are some sufficiently absurd, and in which learning and argument have been very idly squandered. These have necessarily passed under review in this volume, one part of the design of which is to save the student some useless investigations by exhibiting their futility or their folly. One can hardly know the nature and state of true learning without some knowledge of the false. For general readers, in fine, these distillations of learning, these
concentrations of the odor of the flowers of science into portable essences, are quite invaluable in the present state of letters. As the empire of knowledge expands its surface, it seems to require its easy roads and its locomotive engines. But durable reputation must continue to be founded on large and correct knowledge in a particular department; and while, in the branches of learning not nearly akin to our proper pursuits, we may bound our inquiries with the labors of the abridger or the analyzer, in those where we aim at excellence, we must only employ them as guides to larger and loftier acquisitions. In another part of this article, we shall attempt to show how many points of municipal and international law have derived. light and authority from the doctrines of natural jurisprudence. We cannot, of course, go into this very extensive subject at much length, any more than we can regularly analyze the contents of the present volume, extending, as it does, to six hundred pages, and touching on most of the questions alluded to. But we may remark, that, in turning over the work, we have been impressed with new convictions of the importance of natutural jurisprudence; and thus convinced of the salutary influence of these more general and abstract branches of legal acquirement, we must take this occasion to speak a little at large on the subject.
It may not, indeed, be very obvious at first sight to a student, why he is detained, for example, in the outset of his studies, with an examination into the unity of the species, and whether this be reconcilable with its variety of color; or into the true origin of political power, whether from divine right, inheritance, prescription, or consent of the governed; or into the actual existence and true meaning of the state of nature; or into the distinction between perfect and imperfect rights; or the extent of the right of extreme necessity, &c. &c. Yet a wrong understanding of some of these points, we doubt not, has had its share in diffusing some of the greatest moral calamities, and exciting some of the most violent political convulsions, which have desolated the race. The history of the slave trade may induce a doubt whether the victims of this tyranny could have been deemed by their oppressors to be of the same rank of being with themselves; nay, we believe it has been justified on a presumed inferiority, of which their color and shape were seriously asserted to be the badge. It will hardly be denied, that the absurd notions which have been
upheld, of the origin and sanction of political power, have contributed to the number of unwise and arbitrary kings, and of brutish and servile subjects; while false notions of what is called the state of nature, and of the rights of nature, may have added something to the folly and fury of popular and revolu tionary delusions. A notion of the true distinction between perfect and imperfect right, might have wrought some modifications in the conventional law of nations, or rather that of kings; and some resorts to the right of extreme necessity might have been spared to the people, if its existence had been recognised by sovereigns, and had inspired a salutary terror in them. Again, in the identity of a state, one of the nice points which are agitated in the books, may be sometimes involved the question of indemnity for spoliations. The origin and objects of civil government enter into the vexed question of expatriation. And the distinction between the social and constitutional compact has, with very opposite results on the tranquillity of the nation, been regarded in one revolution, and lost sight of in another.
How else than by the principles of the natural law, are we to discuss the questions of religious toleration; the obligation of mere positive laws, with the distinction between mala prohibita and mala in se; the alleged omnipotence of parliament; the rights of extreme necessity (a branch of which has been already alluded to), and of harmless profit; the nullity of ex post facto and retroactive laws; the right to pursue fugitives and their abducted property into the territories of other nations, upon the ocean, or into regions where jurisdiction is unknown; the extra-territorial operation of civil laws; the right of capital punishment, and the true theory of punishment in general; the nature and effects of occupancy, whether particular or in gross; the appropriation of the ocean, and the doctrine of mare clausum aut mare liberum; the extra-patrimonial nature of certain things, such as air, running waters, &c., and the limitations of the same? How, the legality of usury, independently of positive laws; the right of parents to disinherit their offspring; the perpetuity of the marriage contract; the exclusion of aliens from inheriting or holding lands within the territory of a nation; the like exclusion in the case of personal property, and the validity of the droit d'aubaine; the extent of parental power, with the crime of infanticide; the numerous questions of intestacy; questions of insanity, and others in medi
cal jurisprudence; the validity of foreign marriages; the nullity of marriages for incest, natural or civil, with the effect on this contract of prior or supervenient frigidity? How ascertain the right and extent of eminent domain, and the limitations of despotic sovereigns? All these questions of grand consideration can be solved only by a reference to the principles of the jus naturæ et gentium, and those also of human physiology and mental philosophy.
Many of these examples are drawn from public law; but it is equally obvious from others, that the vast body of positive enactments, decisions, precedents, and customs, which together constitute municipal law, have the same fundamental reference to universal jurisprudence. The science, however artificial and technical it may seem, has its pervading abstract principles, from which we must commence all our learning, and to which we must return for a clue, whenever the deductions from them become remote or complicated. These principles, though varied and modified by the genius of the government, or the accidental circumstances of the people, however they may take a tincture and taste' from regions and policies, are those of that necessary and eternal justice which we call the law of nature. Grotius, indeed, was led to the contemplation of it, and to the composition of his elaborate work, by tracing the laws of his country to their principles. The student of mere muni. cipal laws, who begins his inquiries into them instructed in the general topics which occupy the writers on ethics and natural jurisprudence; in the nature of obligation, the meaning and essential requisites of a contract, the principles of evidence, the natural rules of interpretation, &c., will find a light continually shed on the path of acquisition, as, at a future day, he will from the same source be able to direct it on his own expositions and demonstrations. By these studies, he will only draw back, as it were, to bound forward with more effect in the field of positive legislation and judicial decision.
A different train of considerations will suggest themselves to those whose views and objects in the law are of a more enlarged kind. The code of natural equity is a body of rules deduced from the constitution and natural condition of man ; or it may be considered in another aspect, as that body of rules which is the best adapted to promote his moral happiness. But innumerable accidents give rise to peculiar policies which, however adapted to instant emergencies, may thwart in