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enunciate, and the qualifications which must be borne in mind when they are applied. I have devoted considerable time, and much labour, to consulting the Reports, both ancient and modern, as also the standing Treatises on leading branches of the Law, in order to ascertain what Maxims are of most practical importance, and most frequently cited, commented on, and applied. I have likewise repeatedly referred to the various Collections of Maxims which have heretofore been published, and have freely availed myself of such portions of them as seem to possess any value or interest at the present day. I venture, therefore, to hope that very few Maxims have been omitted which ought to have found place in a work like that now submitted to the Profession. In illustrating each Rule, those cases have in general been preferred as examples in which the particular Maxim has either been cited, or directly stated to apply. It has, however, been necessary to refer to many other instances in which no such specific reference has been made, but which seems clearly to fall within the principle of the Rule; and whenever this has been done, sufficient authorities have, it is hoped, been appended, to enable the reader, without very laborious research, to decide for himself whether the application suggested has been correctly made, or not.
In arranging the Maxims which have been selected as above mentioned, the system of Classification has, after due reflection, been adopted; first, because this arrangement appeared better calculated to render the Work, to some extent, interesting as a Treatise, exhibiting briefly the most important Rules of Law, and not merely useful as a book of casual reference; and, secondly, because by this method alone can the intimate connexion which exists between Maxims appertaining to the same class be directly brought under notice and appreciated. It was thought better, therefore, to incur the risk of occasional false or defective classification, than to pursue the easier course of alphabetical arrangement. An Alphabetical List has, however, been appended, so that immediate reference may be made to any required Maxim. The plan actually adopted may be thus stated :—I have in the first Two Chapters, very briefly treated of Maxims which relate to Constitutional Principles, and the mode in which the Laws are administered. These, on account of their comprehensive character, have been placed first in order, and have been briefly considered, because they are so very generally known, and so easily comprehended. After these, are placed certain Maxims which are rather deductions of reason than Rules of Law, and consequently admit of illustration only. Chapter IV. comprises a few principles which may be considered as fundamental, and not referable exclusively to any of the subjects subsequently noticed, and which follow thus : Maxims relating to Property, Marriage, and Descent; the Interpretation of Written Instruments in general; Contracts; and Evidence. Of these latter subjects, the Construction of Written Instruments, and the Admissibility of evidence to explain them, as also those Maxims which embody the Law of Contracts, have been thought the most practically important, and have therefore been noticed at the greatest length. The vast extent of these subjects has undoubtedly rendered the work of selection and compression one of considerable labour; and it is feared that many useful applications of the Maxims selected have been omitted, and that some errors have escaped detection. It must be remarked, however, that, even had the bulk of this Volume been materially increased, many important branches of Law to which the Maxims apply must necessarily have been dismissed with very slight notice; and it is believed that the reader will not expect to find, in a Work on Legal Maxims, subjects considered in detail, of which each presents sufficient materials for a separate Treatise.
One question which may naturally suggest itself remains to be answered: For what class of readers is a Work like the present intended; I would reply, that it is intended not only for the use of students proposing to practise at the bar, or as attorneys, but also for the occasional reference of the practising barrister, who may be desirous of applying a Legal Maxim to the case before him, and who will, therefore, search for similar, or, at all events, analogous cases, in which the same principle has been held applicable and decisive. The frequency with which Maxims are not only referred to by the Bench, but cited and relied upon by Counsel in their arguments; the importance which has, in many decided cases, been attached to them; the caution which is always exercised in applying, and the subtlety and ingenuity which have been displayed in distinguishing between them, seem to afford reasonable grounds for hoping, that the mere Selection of maxims here given may prove useful to the profession, and that the examples adduced, and the authorities referred to by way of illustration, qualification, or exception, may, in some limited degree, add to their utility.
In conclusion, I have to express my acknowledgments to several Professional Friends of practical experience, ability, and learning, for many valuable suggestions which have been made, and much useful information which has been communicated, during the preparation of this work, and of which I have very gladly availed myself. For such defects and errors as will, doubtless, notwithstanding careful revision, be apparent to the reader, it must be observed, that I alone am responsible. It is believed, however, that the Professional public will be inclined to view with some leniency this attempt to treat, more methodically than has hitherto been done, a subject of acknowledged importance, and one which is surrounded with considerable difficulty.
The volumes to which a () is attached have been reprinted with American notes, by T. & J. W. Johnson
at $2 50 per volume. The pages referred to are those between brackets ( ).
Ad quæstionem facit non respondent judices, ad questionem legis non re-
Allegans contraria non est audiendus,
Omne majus continet in se minus,
Quod ab initio non valet in tractu temporis non convalescit,
Argumentum ab inconvenienti plurimum valet in lege,
Nimia subtilitas in jure reprobatur, et talis certitudo certitudinem confundit, 141
FUNDAMENTAL LEGAL PRINCIPLES.
Ubi jus ibi remedium,
Quod remedio destituitur ipsâ re valet si culpa absit,
In jura non remota causa sed proxima spectatur, .
Actus Dei nemini facit injuriam,
Lex non cogit ad impossibilia,