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therefore subject to certain disabilities not affecting void or voidable, i.e., null, ab initio, or capable of bepersons who have attained full age. The period of full ing nullified by the infant at his choice. Contracts, age varies widely in different systems, as do also the for example, which cannot be beneficial to the infant disabilities attaching to nonage.
In Roman law, the are said to be absolutely void. A bond with a penalty age of puberty, fixed at fourteen for males and twelve is for this reason declared to be void. On the other for females, was recognized as a dividing line. Under hand, it is alleged by the more recent text-writers that that age a child is under the guardianship of a tutor, the words void and voidable have not been carefully but several degrees of infancy are recognized. The distinguished, and that a contract is often described as first is absolute infancy in the literal sense--speechless- void when it is only meant that it is not binding. On ness; after that, until the age of seven, a child is in this theory all the contracts of an infant might be defantia prorimus, and from the eighth year to puberty scribed as voidable at his option except those few which he is pubertati procimus. An infant in the last stage are absolutely valid. On his voidable contracts an incould, with the assent of his tutor, act so as to bind fant may sue if he chooses to do so, but may not be himself by stipulations; in the earlier stages he could sued. Of the contracts of an infant which are bindnot, although' binding stipulations could be made to ing ab initio, the most important are those relating to him in the second stage. After puberty, until the age “necessaries.”' The word is used in an extended sigof twenty-five years, a modified infancy was recognized, nification to cover "articles fit to maintain the person during which the minor's acts were not void altogether, in the particular state, degree, and station in life in but voidable, and a curator was appointed to manage which he is.” Whether a particular thing is neceshis affairs. The difference between the tutor and the sary or not is a question of fact to be decided by a jury, curator in Roman law was marked by the saying that but it is for the judge to say whether it is prima facie of the former was appointed for the care of the person, a description such that it may be a necessary: It has the latter for the estate of the pupil
. These prin- been ruled by judges, without consulting the jury, that ciples of course apply only to children who are sui the following articles were not necessary: expensive juris. The patria potestas, so long as it lasts, gives to dinners supplied to an undergraduate in his private the father the complete control of the son's actions; rooms; a pair of solitaire studs costing £25, and a and tutorship and curatorship were devices for protect- goblet costing £15, for a baronet's son ; a chronometer ing those who were free from the potestas, but unable worth £68, for a lieutenant in the navy; ornaments to by reason of infancy to control their own affairs. The the value of £137. On the other hand, an undergradright of the father to appoint tutors to his children by uate has been allowed a gold watch as a necessary; and will testamentarii) was recognized by the Twelve Tables, liveries for an officer's servant, money paid to release as was also the tutorship of the agnati (or legal as dis- an infant from ejectment or distress, and necessaries for tinct from natural relations) in default of such an ap- an infant's wife have all been held to be necessaries of printment. Tutors who held office in virtue of a gen an infant. An object, in itself of a character to be eral law were called legitimi. Besides and in default pronounced a necessary, may in particular cases be deof these, tutors dativi were appointed by the magis- clared not necessary, e.g., if the infant is already suptrates. These terms are still used in much the same plied with things of the kind. A sealskin waistcoat #inse in modern systemis founded on the Roman law, may be a necessary to an infant of good fortune, but not as may be seen in the case of Scotland noticed below. if he has half a dozen such garments in his possession
By the law of England full age is twenty-one, and all already. The person who supplies goods prima facie minors alike are subject to incapacities. The period of necessary to an infant must, it would seem, take the risk twenty-one years is regarded as complete at the begin- of their turning out to be unnecessary. An infant fraudeing of the day before the birthday: for example, an ulently passing hiniself off as of full age and contractinfant born on the first day of January attains his ing on that footing will be held bound in equity. The majority at the first moment of the 31st of December. protection of infants extends sometimes to transactions The incapacity of an infant is designed of course for completed after full age: the relief of heirs who have his own protection, and its general effect is to prevent been induced to barter away their expectations is an exLim from binding himself absolutely by obligations. ample.“ Catching bargains, ' as they are called, throw In the matter of contracts, the statement has gener- on the persons claiming the benefit of them the burally passed current that an infant's contracts, except den of proving their substantial righteousness; and,