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situate in Missouri. The statute in its letter was silent on this point, but it was plainly perceivable that its object was to afford ample protection and indemnity to the policyholder; and in order to give effect to that intention, the court announce and proceed upon this principle: that when it is plainly perceivable that a particular intention, though not precisely expressed, must have been in the mind of the legislature, that intention will be enforced and carried out and made to control the strict letter.1 Though a statute gives inaccurate names to things, if the court can discern its meaning, it will so expound it as to give force to the intention of the legislature; thus, it seems a statutory requirement of the "great seal of Great Britain (used improperly, since the old great seal was, soon after the union with Ireland, destroyed in the presence of the lord chancellor) is substantially satisfied by the use of the great seal of the United Kingdom.2
§ 245. The flexibility of words and clauses to harmonize with general intent.- The natural import of words is their literal sense; but this may be greatly varied to give effect to the fundamental purpose of a statute. The general object of a statute was to restore uniformity in taxation in counties and cities; to effect this, existing laws relating to incorporated towns and cities had to be repealed, that the provisions of the act applicable in terms to both might have effect. There was a repealing clause in the act that "all laws requiring any city to support and provide for its paupers, etc., are hereby repealed." One question which came before the court was whether the clause included laws so providing for incorporated towns; the decision was in the affirmative. The court followed the rule laid down in Mason v. Finch, that, "in construing statutes, courts look at the language of the whole act, and if they find, in any particular clause, an expression not so large and extensive in its import as those used in other parts of the statute, if, upon a view of the whole act, they can collect from the more large and extensive expressions used in the other parts the real intention of the legislature, it is their duty to
1 State v. King, 44 Mo. 283.
Burke v. Monroe Co. 77 Ill. 610; Mason
Dwarris on St. 614; Rex v. Bul- v. Finch, 2 Scam. 223.
give effect to the larger expression." The court say: "Even if the word city was not sufficiently comprehensive to embrace incorporated towns, yet under the rule announced in the case [referred to], it cannot be doubted that the larger and more extensive signification was intended by the use of the word city." The converse is illustrated by the example of a statute which required a notice to be given, under which undoubtedly either a written or verbal notice would suffice. But as a subsequent section required the notice to be served on a person, or left with him, thus employing words implying a written notice, the notice to be given was construed to mean a notice in writing. The seemingly incongruous provisions must be so construed as to harmonize with the general intent manifested in the whole enactment.1
246. The literal sense not controlling.- The mere literal construction of a section in a statute ought not to prevail if it is opposed to the intention of the legislature apparent by the statute; and if the words are sufficiently flexible to admit of some other construction it is to be adopted to effectuate that intention. General words or clauses may be restricted to effectuate the intention or to harmonize them with other expressed provisions. Where general language construed in a broad sense would lead to absurdity it may be restrained. The particular inquiry is not what is the abstract force of the words or what they may comprehend, but in what sense they
1 Burke v. Monroe County, supra. 2 Vinton v. Builders', etc. Asso. 109 Ind. 351.
3 Wilson v. Nightingale, 8 Q. B. 1034; Moyle v. Jenkins, 51 L. J. Q. B. 112; L. R. 8 Q. B. Div. 116.
4 Commonwealth v. Conyngham, 66 Pa. St. 99; Wilkinson v. Leland, 2 Pet. 627, 662.
5 Caledonian R'y Co. v. North British R'y Co. L. R. 6 App. Cas. 114; Freme v. Clement, 44 L. T. (N. S.) 399; L. R. 18 Ch. Div. 499. See Holyland v. Lewin, 26 id. 266; Walton, Ex parte, L. R. 17 Ch. Div. 756; United States v. Bassett, 2 Story, 389.
6 Commercial Bank v. Foster, 5
La. Ann. 516; Barker v. Esty, 19 Vt. 131, 139; Simonds v. Powers, 28 id. 354; Phillips v. State, 15 Ga. 518; Thompson v. Farrer, 9 Q. B. Div. 372 ; State v. Weigel, 48 Mo. 29; Clementson v. Mason, L. R. 10 C. P. 209; Covington v. McNickle, 18 B. Mon. 262; Atkins v. Disintegrating Co. 18 Wall. 272, 302; Smith v. Adams, 5 De Gex, M. & G. 712; Dano v. Railroad Co. 27 Ark. 564; Powdrell v. Jones, 2 Smale & G. 407; Olive v. Walton, 33 Miss. 114; Williams v. McDonal, 3 Pin. 331; Ayers v. Knox, 7 Mass. 306; City of San Diego v. Granniss, 77 Cal. 511.
People v. Davenport, 91 N. Y. 574.
were intended to be used as they are found in the act. The sense in which they were intended to be used furnishes the rule of interpretation, and this is to be collected from the context; and a narrower or more extended meaning is to be given according to the intention thus indicated. In an act providing for raising state taxes, railroads were taxed on the basis of passenger traffic, and it was provided that every railroad paying such tax should not be assessed "with any tax on its lands, buildings or equipments." This exemption was confined to taxes of the kind provided for in the act, and was held not to conflict with another act for a municipal tax. A public board, in terms authorized to adjust all claims against their respective counties, were held not empowered to adjust their own; the general power was construed to refer to claims presented to them and not to make them judges in their own cases. When the intent is plain, words and even parts of sentences may be transposed to carry it into effect. Restrictive clauses significant of the intent in certain provisions may be supplied by intendment in others. General words do not always extend to every case which literally falls within them." When the intention can be collected from the statute itself, words may be modified, altered or supplied so as to obviate any repugnance or inconsistency with such intention. The context is not allowed to change the effect of a section or word where it appears to be the intention that it should be literally construed; in other words, if the true meaning of a word or phrase is apparent from the section in which it occurs, it is not admissible to go outside of it for an interpretation.
1 McIntyre v. Ingraham, 35 Miss. 25, citing Mitchell v. Mitchell, 5 Madd. 72; Hotham v. Sutton, 15 Ves. 320; Stuart v. Earl of Bute, 3 id. 212. See also City of San Diego v. Granniss, 77 Cal. 511.
2 Orange, etc. R. R. Co. v. Alexandria, 17 Gratt. 176; Beawfage's Case, 10 Coke, 99b.
Kennedy v. Gies, 25 Mich. 83. Cunningham v. State, 2 Speers, 246; State v. Turnpike Co. 16 Ohio St. 308. See Doe v. Considine, 6 Wall. 458.
5 Bode v. State, 7 Gill, 328.
6 Jefferys v. Boosey, 4 H. L. 815. 7 Quin v. O'Keeffe, 10 Ir. C. L. (N. S.) 393; Brinsfield v. Carter, 2 Ga. 150; Wainewright, In re, 1 Phil. 258; Rice v. Railroad Co. 1 Black, 358; Walton, Ex parte, L. R. 17 Ch. Div. 746.
8 Spencer v. Metropolitan Board, L. R. 22 Ch. Div. 162; Egerton v. Third Municipality, 1 La. Ann. 435; Depas v. Riez, 2 id. 30; Warehouse Co. v. Lewis, 56 Ala. 514; Blackwood v. Queen, I. R. 8 App. Cas. 96; Pitte v. Shipley, 46 Cal. 154.
Illustrations could be multiplied indefinitely, but the foregoing will suffice. The curious reader will find a variety of new applications of the same principle in the cases cited below. This mode of construction by reference to the subjectmatter and purpose of a statute is applicable to all statutes civil and criminal. If there is an express declaration of the intent and meaning of the statute by the provisions contained in it, all other parts of the act are controlled in construction to serve that intent.2
$247. Interpretation of words and phrases.- Primarily that is, in the absence of anything in the context to the contrary common or popular words are to be understood in a popular sense: common-law words according to their sense in the common law; and technical words, pertaining to any science, art or trade, in a technical sense. It is a familiar rule
1 Milburn v. State, 1 Md. 17; State v. King, 44 Mo. 283; Crocker v. Crane, 21 Wend. 211; Oates v. National Bank, 100 U. S. 239; AttorneyGeneral v. Kwok-A-Sing, L. R. 5 P. C. 179; Brown v. Hamlett, 8 Lea, 732; Brown v. Barry, 3 Dall. 365; Minor v. Mechanics' B'k, 1 Pet. 46; Binney v. Canal Co. 8 id. 201; Kennedy v. Kennedy, 2 Ala. 571; Thompson v. State, 20 id. 54; Sprowl v. Lawrence, 33 id. 674; Big Black Creek, etc. Co. v. Commonwealth, 94 Pa. St. 450; Smith v. Randall, 6 Cal. 47; Ex parte Ellis, 11 id. 222; Simonds v. Powers, 28 Vt. 354; Burr v. Dana, 22 Cal. 11; Bell v. New York, 105 N. Y. 139; State v. Poydras, 9 La. Ann. 165: Allen v. Parish, 3 Ohio, 198; Keith v. Quinney, 1 Or. 364; Reynolds v. Holland, 35 Ark. 56; Coffin v. Rich, 45 Me. 507; Murray v. R. R. Co. 4 Keyes, 274; Jackson v. Collins, 3 Cow. 89; Holmes v. Paris, 75 Me. 559; Matthews v. Commonwealth, 18 Gratt. 989; Cearfoss v. State, 42 Md. 406; Learned v. Corley, 43 Miss. 687; Moyce v. Newington, 4 Q. B. Div. 32; Walton, Ex parte, L. R. 17 Ch. Div. 756; Caledonian R'y Co.
v. North B. R'y Co. L. R. 6 App. Cas. 122; Russell v. Farquhar, 55 Tex. 355; Gravett v. State, 74 Ga. 191; Somerset v. Dighton, 12 Mass. 382; Holbrook v. Holbrook, 1 Pick. 248; Miller v. Salomons, 7 Ex. 475; Attorney-General v. Lockwood, 9 M. & W. 398; Becke v. Smith, 2 M. & W. 195; Wright v. Williams, 1 id. 99; Hollingworth v. Palmer, 4 Ex. 267; Reg. v. Spratley, 6 E. & B. 363; Crespigny v. Wittenoom, 4 T. R. 790; Brewer v. Blougher, 14 Pet. 178; Atkins v. Disintegrating Co. 18 Wall. 272; Maxwell v. Collins, 8 Ind. 38; Larzelere v. Haubert, 109 Pa. St. 515; Sheetz v. Hanbest, 81 id. 100; Wiener v. Davis, 18 id. 331; Jackson v. Bradt, 2 Cai. 169; Packer v. Noble, 103 Pa. St. 188; Swift v. Tyson, 16 Pet. 1; Wheeler v. McCormick, 8 Blatchf. 267.
2 Farmers' Bank v. Hale, 59 N. Y. 53.
3 Cull v. Austin, L. R. 7 C. P. 234; Lion Ins. Asso. v. Tucker, L. R. 12 Q. B. D. 186; Schriefer v. Wood, 5 Blatchf. 215; Green v. Weller, 32 Miss. 650; Wetumpka v. Winter, 29 Ala. 651; Quigley v. Gorham, 5 Cal.
of construction, alike dictated by authority and common sense, that common words are to be extended to all the objects which, in their usual acceptance, they describe or denote; and that technical terms are to be allowed their technical meaning and effect, unless in either case the context indicates that such construction would frustrate the real intention of the maker.1 They should be construed according to the intent of the legislature which passed the act. If the words of the statute are of themselves precise and unambiguous, then no more can be necessary than to expound those words in their natural and ordinary sense. The words themselves do, in such case, best declare the intention of the legislature. The court is at liberty to regard the state of the law at the time, and the facts which the preamble or recitals of the act prove to have been the existing circumstances at the time of its preparation.3 They should be construed with reference to their generally accepted meaning at the time of the passage of the act, and if re-enacted will be deemed to be adopted in their original sense.1
§ 248. Words and phrases should be construed as they are generally understood.-In the construction of statutes a word which has two significations should ordinarily receive
418; Gross v. Fowler, 21 Cal. 392; Evans v. Stevens 4 T. R. 462; Clark v. Utica, 18 Barb. 451; Morrall v. Sutton, 1 Phil. 533; Cruger v. Cruger, 5 Barb. 225; Jesson v. Wright, 2 Bligh, 2; Doe v. Harvey, 4 B. & C. 610; Abbott v. Middleton, 7 H. L. 68; State v. Clarksville, etc. Co. 2 Sneed, 88; Palmer v. State, 7 Cold. 82; Engelking v. Von Wamel, 26 Tex. 469; Saltoun v. Advocate-General, 3 Macq. 659; Queen v. Castro, L. R. 9 Q. B. 360; Parkinson v. State, 14 Md. 184; Martin v. Hunter, 1 Wheat. 326; Georgia v. Atkins, 1 Abb. (U. S.) 22; Philpott v. St. George's Hospital, 6 H. L. Cas. 338; McCool v. Smith, 1 Black, 459; The Kate Heron, 6 Sawyer, 106; United States v. Jones, 3 Wash. 209; United States v. Magill, 1 Wash. 463; 4 Dall. 426; Vincent, Ex parte, 26 Ala. 145; Allen's Appeal, 99 Pa. St.
196; Adams v. Turrentine, 8 Ired. L.
1 De Veaux v. De Veaux, 1 Strob.
2 Sussex Peerage, 11 Cl. & Fin. 85;
4 Dawson v. Dawson, 23 Mo. App.