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see that you can never set up again the idea of any other concealed purpose in masonry, but that of trick and cheat. Speculative Masonry, apart from its political purposes, has never been any thing but a permanent hoax. The legislature should sweep it down, and include in the same act, Orangism, Druidism and Odd fellowship, as the last of secret associations existing in this country, where the parties, as an association, assume publicity and are bound together by an oath to observe certain marks of distinction. This is the peculiar duty of a legislature, which in all its acts should legislate for the benefit of all. It is ridiculous to call masonry a charitable institution. The good of educatiog a hundred or two of children bears no comparison with the evil that is brought on thousands by the expenses of such an association, by the joint waste of time and means which the ceremonies occasion. There ought to be no sucb cbarities in existence: they degrade us. All the children in the country might be legislatively fed, clothed and educated, with one half of the means that are now squandered in what are called cbarities. There is a distressing waste of means in this country, arising from the joint evils of error and abuse, corporated abuses and religious, moral and legislative errors.
Thus are you charged by one of the grand architects of the universe. Thus bave I put out the artificial lights of masonry. And thus I desire to reclaim you, to make you good and useful men, for the benefit of yourselves, your wives and your children.
TO COUNSELLOR SAMPSON-NEW YORK.
DEAR SIR. I Am glad to find that your proposal for a condensation of the law, is likely to be adopted among us.
In Great Britain, in Louisiana, and in New York, the experiment is now making, and its obvious necessity will force it to be adopted elsewhere.
I have attended to the objections made to the plan by many of the older members of the legal profession, but I cannot yet acknowledge that they have changed my opinion,
It is said, that to digest or codify the principles of law so far as they have been determined, will save no labour to the profession. Cases must still be resorted to, to ascertain the shades of difference in those that have been decided, from those that arise afresh. Mere general principles, so plain as to be at once ac. knowledged, will be too loose for practical purposes.
To this I reply, that reported cases may all be reduced to two classes : 1st, Those which serve as the basis of general principles : 2d Those which contain circumstances of limitation, enlargement, or varia. tion that the application of general principles difficult, or that compel them to be modified when applied to cases before the court; under these two heads, all cases whatever may be classed. Now, it is manifest that by a code or digest, we save all the first class, and by introducing the more obvious limitations of the general rule, we render useless a great part of the second class. If we cannot do every thing that is wished for, are we to abandon all improvement in despair and do nothing?
It has been said, that cases almost without number have occurred, have been reported, and must be consulted by French jurists since the adoption of the code Napoleon. I dare say it is so, new forms, and variations in the contracts of commercial society, arising out of new circumstances, will be of perpetual occur
The gentlemen of the bar may rest assured that business and clients will not be annihilated by any improvement in the code or digest. But the labour of reading and of citing the cases which form the basis of the principles enacted in the code of Napoleon, will have been taken away, and if much labour still 'remains, much has been saved.
It is said, the best digest or code we can make, will only serve as a new starting place, and that cases will go on accumulating, and reports multiplying as heretofore. Granted, But is it nothingfuhat we have or can have if we please, a new starting place every half century, leaving behind us the accumulated rubbish of year's proceedings? Is it nothing that our pockets are no longer bur
thened with the expense of buying, or our time occupied with the wearisome consulting, and our libraries discharged of the dreadful accumulation of volume upon volume of cases rendered useless by such a digest?
It is strange that the gentlemen of the profession should be so averse to a code or digest, unaccompanied with cases, when they hail the appearance of a digested volume on a particular portion of law with all the cases included and at full length! Suppose Mr. A. B. publishes a digest of the law of Lien, of Limitation, of partnership of Bacon and Feme, &c. Mr. A. B. although an excellent compiler, having no authority annexed to his name, is compelled to cite very fully all the cases from whence his principles are deduced. Now, this though necessary, is dreadfully burthensome, for every lawyer already possesses the same cases among his collection of reporters, and he thus buys over again a quantity of matter, which he has bought already. But suppose these principles to be enacted by a legislature, then would Mr. A. B.'s volume be reduced to half a dozen intelligible pages, by thus conferring on the principles that authority and sanction which Mr. A. B.can only confer by an expensive and laborious collection and re-publication of the cases from whose purview he has deduced them: Strange, that it should be a nuisance to enact by competent authority, half a dozen pages of common sense, and that it should be meritorious to publish them with the weight of two or three hundred decided cases hanging about their necks!
But in good truth so far as I am concerned, I leave the gentlemen of the bar out of the question, when a short and intelligible code would save them trouble or not, is not a matter of indifference, but it is to me of minor importance. In the present state of the law, it is like orthodoxy in religion, a mystery-Where reason ends, faith begins. None of the unitiated can enter even the vestibule of the temple.--Law ought to be not a branch merely, .but the chief branch of social ethics. Society knows nothing about it by means of the lawyer. A digested code of plain, undeniable legal principles, founded on the morality of common sense, applied to every day transactions, might render the whole community wiser, better, more prudent, more cautious, and less litigious. Why would it not be as useful to peruse, as Huthinson, or Beattie, or Paley? it would be, assuredly better considered, more practically useful, and more authoritative than these systems of school boy morality; Men would better be able to judge when they ought and when they ought not to go to law: they would be better jurors, better arbitrators, wiser and better citizens. If we can teach ethics to school boys, is there any insuperable difficulty in instructing sensible and well educated men ?
I should be glad these points would receive farther discussion
and I submit them to your better judgment, being with great respect, dear sir,
Your friend and humble servant,
THOMAS COOPER, M. D.
For the New-York National Advocate.
TO JUDGE COOPER, PRESIDENT OF COLUMBIA
COLLEGE, SOUTH CAROLINA
Dear SIR, I HAVE read the letter you were pleased to address to me through the New-York National advocate of this morning. If I did not know how little you value compliments, I should thank you for the honour; but to the point, I cannot better answer, than by communicating through the same channel, the following notice, by a celebrated French jurist of Mr. Duponceau's valedictory address to his law academy. Philadelphia, 22d. April, 1823, extracted from the Revue Encyclopedique. I translate it, that it may be seen by every American reader, with what vigorous bievity this foreign lawyer has comprehended, in four 8vo pages, the spirit of the work, and the merits of the question.
The object of the author of this dissertation, (observes Mr. Dupin,) has been to treat, ex professo, a question of American jurisprudence, which has given rise, in his own country, to a variety of opinions.-Although the subject must, with foreigners, lose much of its importance, still a discussion involving the entire system of jurisprudence of the United States, cannot be without its interests to those who like to know what is doing by foreign nations in the way of legislation. The question is, whether the United States have Common Law? The phrase refers to the common law of England, which our author defines after this manner: By the common law in England, is understood, a metaphysical essence, which originally consisted of certain feudal traditional customs, but which has, by the force of events, been extended and identified with the government of the country, which regulates the prerogative of the king and the rights of the subject, and is considered as the source of various jurisdictions, which makes part of all the political and civil institutions, and is connected with every thing that relates to the government of the nation.
Is the Common Law the law of the United States ? On the first formation of the Colonies, the founders brought with them the Common Law, which every Englishman regards as his birthright: but each colony judged for itself, what parts of it were fitted to its new situation, and either by legislative provisions or ju
dical decisions, or usage and practice, adopted certain parts and rejected others; so that in no state of the union was the whole of it received; some adopted what others rejected. Under this diversity of Common law, the most that can be said is, that it is the law of each state on every matter where it has not been derogated from ; but the Common Law of one state, is not the Common Law of another, much less of the United States.
The American revolution has furnished a decisive argument to those who are upposed to the Common Law of England. It has made constitutions the basis of legislation, and thenceforth the constituted authorities have had to look to their constitutions and the legislative acts which have developed their principles, for the foundation and measure of their powers.
The author admits that the judiciary of the union cannot derive any jurisdiction from the Common Law, but is confined to that which the constitution has delegated to it: but he thinks that within the.constitutional circle, it may exercise a jurisdiction by application of the Common Law as rule in civil and criminal cases; and that under this two fold relation, there is an American Common Law, which is nothing else than the English Common Law perfected, He enumerates among the most important of the improvements alluded to, not the toleration, but the equality of religious faith and worship: the liberty of the press, secured not by the absence of prohibitary law, but by constitutional sanctions; the right of counsel to every person under accusation: the benefit of habeas corpus, better guaranteed than in England, from it being made the right and duty of the judge to examine into the truth and reality of the fact imputed to the prisoner, the substitution of mitigated punishment, in the place of those barbarous inflictions and forfeitures which disgrace the English code; the prison system, chiefly that of Pensylvania, which has gone near to realize the hopes of the philanthropist.
The author also felicitates his fellow citizens on the progress of their civil jurisprudence, the rights of primogeniture being entirely abolished, and the ancient feudal system only to be traced by a few vain forms and unmeaning phrases; the inextricable labyrinth of English practice, made plain and the enormous expence diminished, and justice rendered accessible to the poor as well as to the rich.
Let us hope that these liberal principles may be realized and co-ordained in written codes, and that if such be the benign legislation of Americans, that it may be found amongst themselves, without their having any need to recur for the knowledge of it to the antiquated usages of old England, or consulting the decisions of English judges, a serious but inevitable evil, so long as they are willing to submit to that traditional legislation called the Common law.
It is indeed a prodigy, that such usages, transmitted by vague