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The author received permission from the late Chief Justice, SAMUEL JONES, to dedicate the following work to him.
As it was passing through the press, death closed the long course of the labors and honors of that venerable man. The inscription which I should so gratefully have tendered to the living, I mournfully offer to the memory of the dead. It is but a feeble strain to add to the sound of that homage to his worth, which the united voice of the profession has uttered. He lived the life of a lawyer and a judge-unsurpassed in learning, integrity, and ability. He died, entitled to the tribute of Tacitus to Agricola, “possessing all the best enjoyments that spring from virtue ; adorned with every dignity, with his honors blooming around him, and the ties of friendship preserved to the last.” He died, with what the noble Roman did not possess, “in the communion of the Catholic Church, in the comfort of a reasonable, religious, and holy hope." Let his memory be cherished, and his example be followed, as a model of all that was earnest, just, and wise ; and his influence will live, as a blessing beyond his life.
The city of New York, from the period when a few enterprising Hollanders built a solitary trading house upon its southern point, (a) has spread itself over half the island, and expanded its population to half a million of people; from the time when a simple charter of half a dozen lines, and a few plain ordinances were sufficient for its government, its code has increased to a volumnious body of laws, found in ancient charters, with elaborate clauses-in a multitude of statutes, with complicated provisions and in a mass of ordinances, most important in their influence, and minute in their details. The franchises, the privileges, the property of this great mass of citizens are, to a large extent, regulated and controlled by this extended code. The prosperity and peace of a great city are under the dominion of a body, endued with every species of political power—exercising legislative, judicial, and administrative functions; without one element of permanence, and with the slightest imaginable element of restraint.
(a) A. D. 1615.
To trace these powers to their source; to show where they yet rest upon the old foundations, and where upon modern legislation; where they have been respected and strengthened, and where they have been assailed and impaired—to exhibit how the revolutions of the state and the mutations of government have wrought upon them, as well as to set them forth in their present legal operation, is a task deeply interesting to every citizen ; most useful, if worthily accomplished; and serviceable, even in the imperfection of its performance.
If any one will pay the slightest attention to the vast extent and great complexity of the rights of the Corporation of New York, and of the interests subject to its rule, he will conclude that few communities demand a more comprehensive, or a more clearly defined system of government. The Supreme Court of the state has thus spoken of it:
“The Corporation of New York differs widely from a private corporation ; it more nearly resembles the Legislature of an independent state, acting under a constitution prescribing its powers."(a) And in another case, (6) Chief Justice Nelson says:
“ The Charter of New York confers upon the Corporation many powers and privileges that belong to them in
(a) 6 Wendell, 655