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The contents, and index, have been carefully revised, and caused to correspond with the pages of the third American edition.
W. M. S.
TO THE SECOND EDITION.
MORE than twenty years have passed away since I first wrote and published the following treatise : and in that space of time great changes have been effected in the lawand a great volume of decisions bearing on the subject of this essay has been pronounced.
I must expect a severer criticism for this second edition than that with which the first edition was received: but I am sure that the kindness which I have always received from the members of my profession will not fail me now.
There is one notion often expressed with regard to works written or revised by authors on the Bench, which seems to me in part at least erroneous, the notion I mean that they possess a quasi-judicial authority. It is hardly enough remembered how different are the circumstances under which a book is written and a judgment pronounced, or how much the weight and value of the latter are due to the discussions at the bar which precede the judgment.
I have revised or rewritten or written the following parts of the present volume, viz. :
II. - The whole, except part of Chapter II.
The XIth Chapter of Part III. (that on the Statute of Frauds) was originally revised for me by another hand and may retain some traces of a difference of style: and in other parts I received some assistance from my former pupil and friend, the late Mr. H. W. May. By far the greater part of this work of revision and rewriting was done by me before leaving the bar. These parts of the work have been subsequently revised and brought down to date by the labors of Mr. Rawlins.
The revision of the other parts of the volume, namely :
has been undertaken by Mr. Rawlins alone. He has consulted me on various points which have arisen, especially on the general arrangement of some of the chapters; but the whole merit of this work is his.
To him also is due the entirely new Index, which will, I hope and believe, be found a valuable part of the book.
My thanks are due to Professor Holland, of Oxford, for kind assistance, the nature of which will be learned from the additional note at the end of the volume.
LINCOLN'S INN, May, 1881.
TO THE FIRST EDITION.
The following papers contain an attempt to enquire into the principles which govern Courts of Equity in the Specific Performance of Contracts. I offer this little book to the members of my profession, with somewhat of hope, because I know the indulgence with which they are wont to accept the results of honest labor spent on professional subjects: but with much more of diffidence, because I am not ignorant of the difficulties of the subject on which I have written, or the shortcomings of my own rerformance.
The scope and object of my essay will be sufficiently learned from the table of contents. It will at once be seen that they are essentially different from those of the admirable works of Lord St. Leonards and Mr. Dart on the Law of Vendors and Purchasers. Those treatises discuss the contract of sale of real estate and all the relations thence arising, so that the doctrine of specific performance is treated of only as one mode in which that contract is enforced : whilst the present work is designed to elucidate the principles of specific performance in general, and the