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favoured the profession, is valuable, legal certainty and to confound all both on the score of its own me- principle. The law becomes rits, and as it gives promise of fu- without form and void, and darkture productions. If it does not ness is on the face of it.' There prove that the legal science of our is a medium. No country is perfect, it yet shows this age, contends for the illitethat it is meliorating. If the ral constructions, and black-letterfruits of our judicial systems be ed niceties of the ancient gownnot ripe, it proves that in their na- men ; nor will a wise man push to tural tendencies, they are ripening. the other extreme, and overwhelm Adjudged cases, well reported, are all certainty and all rule in the su inany land-marks, to guide erra- chaos of arbitration principles. tica opinion. In America the po- A discreet judge will take a midpular sentiment has, at times, been dle course. He will neither fly to hosiile to the practice of deciding the extremity of the west, nor cases on precedent, because the run away beyond Aurora and the people, and lawyers too, have mis- Ganges.' Settled cases narrow understood their use. Precedents the ground of private opinion. are not statutes. They settle They are useful in enabling the cases, which statutes do not reach. profession correctly to advise their By reference to books, an inquirer clients. They leave less to the collects the opinions and argu- judge, and render the rule more ments of many great and learned certain. This is the legitimate men, on any particular topick. use of precedents. By the aid of these, he discovers We beg Mr. Johnson's pardon, principles and relations, inferences and the reader's, for wandering so and consequences, which no' man far from his book. could instantaneously perceive. The case of Ludlow & al. vs. He has, at once, a full view of his Browne, & al. page 1, seems to subject, and arrives without diffi- be nothing more or less than a culty, to the same conclusion, to question of fact, viz. whether the which, probably, his own mind plaintiffs were bonafide owners of would in time have conducted him the goods in question, or whether by a slow and painful process of they had merely accommodated the ratiocination.
French merchants with their But precedents not only assist names, with the fraudulent design the judge ; they, in a good mea- of covering the property with sure, control him. They tend to the mask of neutrality. If this bring the judicial system to that point had been decided by a jury, excellent condition, in which the there would have been an end to the law, and not the judge, decides ca
The case of Tucker vs. ses. They prevent the substitu- Jubel & al. p. 20, is still more tion of personal opinions for the destitute of any question of law. doctrines of the law. Judges will It ought to be expunged from the sometimes affect to play the book. chancellor, and following an ill- In the case, Foot vs. Tracy, p.46, judged notion of equity, they pur- the court, notwithstanding it consue the phantom, through cour- sists of five learned judges, is said ses, devious as the serpent's, and to be equally divided. The quesdark as midnight. Equity doc- tion is whether, in an action for trines, combined in questions at a libel, the defendant can give in common law, tend to annihilate all evidence, under the general issue, the general character of the plain which the court was divided. In tiff in mitigation of damages ? the Court of King's Bench in Ch. J. Kent and Mr. J. Thompson England eleven successive years hold the affirmative ; Mr. J. Liv- have elapsed without presenting a ingston and Mr. J. Tomkins the diversity of opinion among the negative. Mr. J. Spenser gave no judges in a single case ; and peropinion, but the reporter has not haps for thirty years, in that court, favoured us with the reason. The there was hardly as much differimpartial balance of the law is ence of opinion on the Bench, as thus kept true to its level ! happened in the New-York court,
We know of nothing more un- in the Term, in which the cases, happy for the publick,or more dis- which Mr. J. reports were heard. couraging to those engaged in pro. The cause of this difference is a fessional pursuits, than the dis- subject deserving consideration. agreement of judges. When the Would it not be better, if, in or. ardent inquirer has laboured dinary occasions, but one opinion, through the tangles of a compli- and that the opinion of the court, cated and ensnarled statement ; were expressed? when he has toiled after counsel The case of the People vs. up the steep ascent of inference, Barret and Ward, p. 66,is a highly induction, conclusion ; eager to be important one in the principle it solved of his doubts, and over- involves, but totally unimportant borne perhaps by the pressure of as a precedent from the disagreecontradictory cases and opinions, ment of the judges. Judge Livhe looks to the court for final de- ingston's argument in that case cision, and beholds, depressed and is a happy specimen of juridical disheartened, uncertainty and doubt reasoning. emanating even from the oracle ! In the case, Foot ys. Tracy, If six months severe study and we observe the marginal abstract reflection could have made the is incorrect. The same remark court agreed in the case of Foot applies to the case of Livingston vs. vs. Tracy, the time would have Cheetham, and to that of New been well expended. Mr. J. has Windsor Turnpike Company vs. reported above forty cases. Of Ellison. these,several are questions of prac- There are some errours of the Lise, which are indeed useful to the press, which we do not note. junior part of the profession, in The type is handsome and the paintroducing them to an acquain- per good. There is a great deal tance with the administration of too much margin on the pages, for publick justice. Perhaps not any good purpose. Modern books more than twenty of the cases in of poetry and plays have already this volume involve much difficul- crowded our shelves with white ty or legal obscurity. In five, the paper. Ohe, jam satis ! The refermost important of these twenty, ences to authorities are generally the court disagree. This seems correct and pertinent. to be a great portion of causes of On the whole, we believe the that description. We happen to
We happen to Profession will be thankful to Mr. hare Cranch's Reports before us, Johnson, not for making a book, while we write this, a book of but for making a good one. about 500 pages, and upon examination we find no case in it, in
place of the natural, simple, and Miscellaneous Poems, with several pathetick descriptions of our best
specimens from the author's mans poets. It is not unlike strenu-
ous idleness' for a man of genius
can please only by its wildness and
savage irregularity. Yet in the THS little volume, however specimens from Ossian of the deficient in other respects, certain- work in question, we find some of ly cannot fail to please, if variety his most laboured and finished pasbe the criterion. It is a thing of sages, polished with great care, shreds and patches,' and contains and least liable to critical animadfragments of every species of
poetry from epick to epigrammatick.
In his levities he displays no inThe merits of its component considerable talent of embellishing parts are perhaps as unequal, as
trifles, and giving interest to occurthey are various, and if they some rences in themselves trivial, by the times excite a disposition to praise, adventitious aids of humour and we are oftener compelled to cen- vivacity. His epigrams have gesure. We occasionally find vi- nerally the necessary and distingour of genius, brilliancy of ima- guishing ingredients of wit and gination and poetick imagery ; but point, without which they can much more frequently weak con- never be tolerated. ceptions, dull and feeble versifica- The profiles of eminent men tion, that appear rather the off- are sometimes lifeless and inanispring of a mind imbecile and mate sketches, dull and prosaick heavy, than of one,
in versification, and afford not a ...., cui mens divinior, atque os
few examples of genuine anti-cliMagni soniturum.
max. In others we have bold and
characteristick delineations, giving Lord Monboddo, we are told, the most distinguishing features of believed in tails ; and with a simi- mind, with a grace and dignity lar degree of faith Mr. Sewall is hardiy to be expected from the one of those, who believe in the shackles of an acrostick. authenticity of the poems of Os- The devotional poems in this sian. The rhapsodies of Mac- book deserve great praise for pie.. pherson, sugared over with ty,fervent but rational, zeal withcounterfeit rust of antiquity, have out fanaticism, and seriousness gained a reputation with some, withour gloom or asperitya from whose orthodoxy in literature we had expected better things.
ART. 19. That the multitude should mistake madness for inspiration, and Memoirs of the life of Marmontel, extravagance for sublimity, is not
written by himself. New York, marvellous ; but every one who
Brisban & Brannan. 1807. 3 reverences
masters, Spencer, Shakespeare,and Milton, This work was composed by cannot but grieve, that unmeaning Marmontel, for the instruction of declamation should so lead com- his children, during his seclusion mon sense captive, as to usurp the in the village of Abbeville, at a
Vol. IV. No. 4
time,when every Frenchman, who revolution, its causes,and its consewould not kneel to the revolution- quences ; anecdotes of its leaders, ary colossus, kneaded with mire their corruption, and intrigue ; toand cemented with blood, found it gether with a variety of facts, now necessary to fly from the furies of better known, and more circumParis. It is written in a familiar stantially related by those, who style, and, as the author more than have made it a business to collect once informs us, seems intended and compile them. As the author only for his children. The two took no part in the revolution, and first volumes (now in one) com- mentions only those things, which prise the little anecdotes of his concern himself, or those, with years at school ; the acquaintance whom he was acquainted more which he there formed; the his. particularly, nothing is here found, tory of his various instructors ; that can be considered new and inthe societies into which he after- teresting; and nothing interesting wards became initiated ; the se- which, at this time, is new. He crets of his amours ; and the suc- writes on this subject with all the cess of his literary labours, &c. &c. feelings of a Frenchman, who has Most of the portraits, contained in escaped the madness of faction, these memoirs, though professed- and who is compelled to view the ly of the greatest characters of the downfall of his country from the eighteenth century, are merely lo- recesses of concealment ; and on cal, and excite but little interest ; this topick, discoursing to his chilhowever pleasing they may be to dren, we are willing to look with his children, they are not of suffi- all indulgence. cient consequence to the world, to Upon the whole, the Memoirs occupy so large a part of the work. of Marmontel deserve no greater That of one Hubert, toward the praise than that of being amusing. end of the second volume, is of They contain nothing of much this description; after giving an ac- consequence to any class of readcount of · Cramer,' a. bookseller: 'ers, excepting those, who are fond
of fiction and romance ; and to • Hubert had a talent, less useful, these, the style and the matter will but amusing and very curious in
meet with friends. its futility. You would have said he had eyes at his finger’s ends. edition, with that printed in Lon.
A comparison of the American With his hands behind his back, don in 1805, in four volumes, will he would cut out a profile as like, be in favour of the former ; for and even more like, than he could have drawn with a pencil.
though there are many faults not
He had the face of Voltaire so strong- as, “tolerably severe,'
to be found in the original, such
nascent ly impressed on his imagination, beauty,' &c.sc. yet these are comthat, absent or present, his scissars
mon to both translations. represented him meditating, writing, in action, and in all attitudes. generally be read by very young
The type is small, but as it will I have seen landscapes cut out by eyes, this may be no great objechim in white paper, where the per- tion. Book IV. is printed Book spective was preserved by him III.,' lineal is spelt linial,' and with prodigious art.'
nature,' in two places, has the The third and fourth volumes final letter omitted. There are contain some brief sketches of the sereral other trifling inaccuracies
in the execution, probably arising That Virgil wrote a poem calfrom the fineness of the letters. led.Culex, is indisputable. The The binding is neat, and the paper authorities, which Mr. S. has quotgood. We are pleased to observe, ed, prove this point so fully, that this work is compressed to the “That the probation bears no hinge nor size of two volumes, and should loop another edition be issued, we think To hang a doubt on.' the best part of the matter might But we could have wished him be contained in one.
to shew, whether it has descended
to us in such a tolerable state of ART. 20.
purity, that Virgil's reputation as The Culex of Virgil ; with a trans- a poet is in any degree involved in
If Mr. S. has lation into English verse, by Lu- the production. cius M. Sargent.
submitted to the drudgery of com
paring Heyne's text of this poem, Parve Culex, pecudum custos, tibi tale me. renti,
with his marginal notes, and reFuneris officium vitæ pro munere reddit.
marked the various readings, the 8vo. pp. 44. Boston, Belcher frequent interpolations, and the & Armstrong.
perpetual corruptions, we think, if The first question concerning at all skeptical in his nature, he the Culex is, whether it be Vir- must be led to doubt whether this gil's. In proof of its authenticity poem can strictly be called the Mr. S. has inserted in a note 'the Culex of Virgil. It is a well known authorities collected by Heyne, tale, concerning the vessel in which from Suetonius, Statius, and Mar- Theseus of Athens sailed to Crete, tial ; and has noticed the objection and returned to his country after of Ruæus, founded on the com- an unprecedented exploit, that, by parative meanness of the poem. In continual renovation of its parts, answer to this objection, Mr. S. its identity became a question of humbly conceives,' that, suppos- much sophistical debate. Whething with Ruæus, his author was er the poem under consideration twenty-six years of age when he furnish as worthy a topick for the wrote the Culex, he might have display of dialecticks, is a question written the Bucolicks at the age of that we shall submit to the learnthirty, without progressing beyond ing of the schools. the gradation of poetical improve- We think it would have been ment. We know not on what proper for Mr. S. to have prefaced principles Mr. S. has graduated the poem, both the original and his scale of poetical progression ; the translation, with the argument. but, in ordinary calculations, we This he might have found, for the should not predict, that the auther former, furnished to his hand in of a humble, obscure poem, of Heyne's edition, where it is suffidoubtful appellation, written at the ciently full and perspicuous. age of twenty-six, would, at the would also have been an improve. age of thirty, produce the most ment to have printed the original. polished and captivating pastorals. text and the translation on oppoIn making these remarks, we have site columns, and to have numbertaken it for granted, that Mr. S. ed the lines of each. intended to speak of the Culex as In remarking on Mr. S.'s transthe text now stands ; for he has lation of this mutilated, Lucolmar said nothing of its genuineness, Heroick pasm, we are disposed to