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ened policy. Much of its excellence, it must be admitted, is the growth of modern times. Its bistory may be easily traced back to the classical shores of the Mediterranean, where maritime enterprise, upon the revival of letters, spread itself with wonderful rapidity and success. It succeeded the age of chivalry; and, by blending the common interests of nations, it softened the inanners, and subdued the barbarous spirit of rivals and adversaries. The customs of trade and navigation soon acquired the authority of law; and, assisted by the persuasive equity of the Roman law of contract, (theo much studied and admired, and still entitled to profound admiration,) it silently pervaded all Europe, from the farther Calabria to the frozen Baltic. The Consolato del Mare, which still instructs us by the wisdom of its precepts, is but a collection of the rules and maxims of this voluntary international code. The celebrated Ordinance of Louis the Fourteenth (which will be gratefully remembered, when his ambitious projects are lost in the dimness of tradition) is little more than a text gathered from the civilians, and the customs of commerce, by the genius of a minister, whose life seemed devoted to the interests of posterity. England was almost the last to receive into her bosom this beautiful effort of human reason. Little more than a century has elapsed, since she could scarcely be said to possess any commercial jurisprudence. The old common lawyers repelled it with a sullen inliospitality and indifference. And, though it cannot be doubted, that the spirit of commerce would, first or last, have forced it into the courts of England, and compelled them to protect the interests, which the enterprise of her subjects had created; it may be reasonably questioned, whether, but for the extraordinary genius of Lord Mansfield, she would not have been, at this very moment, a century behind continental Europe in adopting its doctrines. He was in a great measure the author of the law of insurance; and he gave to the other branches of commercial law a clearness and certainty, which surprise us more and more, as we examine and study bis decisions. That be borrowed much from foreign jurisprudence is admitted; but he more than repaid every obligation to these sources. He naturalized the principles of commercial law, when be transplanted them into the soil of England, and they have flourished with new vigor in her genial climate. It is her just boast, that, baving been once a tributary, she has now in turn laid the whole continent under contribution. Her commercial law has attained a perfection, order, and glory, which command the reverence of the whole world. It is almost universally followed and obeyed; not, indeed, as of positive institution ; but as wisdom, practical wisdomn, acting upon the results of a large experience, in a government, where opinion is free, and justice is administered without favor and without reproach.

A treatise upon this branch of law must necessarily comprehend a wide range of subjects. It must discuss, among other things, the law of principals and agents, brokers, factors, and consignees ; of partnerships, and other joint ownerships ; of negotiable instruments, such as bills of exchange, promissory notes, checks, and bills of lading; of contracts of bailment, shipments, and affreightment; and, as incidents, of charter-parties, freight, demurrage, and stoppage in transitu; of navigation and shipping, and, as incidents, the rights and duties of owners, masters, and mariners; and of insurance, bottomry, respondentia, salvage, and general average. My object will be to deal as fully with these topics, as may consist with the limits, by which every system of lectures must be circumscribed.

In the last place, the Constitutional Law of the United States. In the correct exposition of this subject there is not a single American citizen, who has not deep stake and permanent interest. “ In questions merely political,” says Junius, “ an honest man may stand neuter.

But the laws and constitution are the general property of the subject. Not to defend, is to relinquish; and who is so senseless as to renounce his share in a common benefit, unless he hopes to profit by a new division of the spoil ?”* The existence of the union of these States does, (as I think,) mainly depend upon a just administration of the powers and duties of the national government; upon the preservation of that nice, but ever changing influence, which balances the state and general governments, and tends, or should always tend, to bring them into a due equilibrium. There is no safety to our civil, religious, or political rights, except in this union. And it is scarcely too much to affirm, that the cause of liberty throughout the world is in no small measure suspended upon this great experiment of self-government by the people. I shall endeavour, in my commentaries upon this important branch of political law, to discuss it with all the delicacy and reserve becoming my official station, and with all the sobriety appertaining to the fundamental law of organization of a free gov

Letter 41, to Lord Mansfield.

ernment. My object will be to unfold its divisions, and explain its principles, as far as practicable, by the lights of those great minds, which fostered into being, and nourished its infancy. I shall deal little with speculative discussions, and still less with my own personal opinions. But I shall rely with undoubting confidence upon the early commentaries of its framers, upon the legislative recognitions of authority and duty, and the judicial decisions of ihe highest courts, as safe guides for interpretation. Above all, I shall freely use the doctrines of the adınirable production * of Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, (patriots as pure, and statesmen as wise as any, who have graced our country,) which has already acquired the weight of an authority throughout America. If by such means I shall contribute to fix in the minds of American youth a more devout enthusiasm for the constitution of their country, a more sincere love of its principles, and a more firm determination to adhere to its actual provisions against the clamors of faction, and the restlessness of innovation, my humble labors will not be without some reward in the consciousness of having contributed something to the common weal.

I have thus sketched a general outline of the course of lectures, which the founder of the Dane Professorship has in the first instance assigned to this chair for the encouragement of juridical learning. Imperfect as this outline is, it must strike the most superficial observer, bow rich and various are the topics, which it proposes to examine; how extensive is the learning, and how exhausting the diligence, to accomplish the design. While it does honor to the public spirit, and the sagacity, and the enlightened zeal of the founder; while it testifies his enthusiasın for the science, in which he has so deservedly attained eminence; it at the same time admonishes us, that be, who matured the plan, seems alone to possess the courage and ability to execute it with complete success. In truth, the venerable founder has measured the strength of others by his own; and scarcely seems to have suspected the difficulties of the task, from the consciousness of his own power to subdue them. The skillul guide in the Alps walks with fearless confidence in the midst of dangers, which appall the traveller, who has never made trial of his strength. Lord Coke, himself a prodigy of prosessional learning, has somewhere laid down, for the benefit of students, the various employments for every day, and has assigned six hours for the pursuit of the law.* Lord Hale has limited his exactions to the same period;t and Sir William Jones, whose early ambition thought, that all the departments of law might be mastered by a single mind in satisfactory commentaries, has not ventured upon a different assignment of labor. I feel justified in saying, that for more than fifty years our generous patron has daily devoted to his favorite studies of politics and jurisprudence more than double that number of hours.

* The Federalist.

I trust, it will not be deemed an intrusion, if upon this occasion I venture to speak somewhat of the public services of this distin

guished lawyer, which are already matter of notoriety, and, considering his age and character, may almost be deemed matter of history.

It is now more than fifty years since Mr. Dane first came to the bar, and brought to its practice his varied stores of knowledge. He was almost immediately engaged in the duties of legislation in this, his native state; and to him we are chiefly indebted for the first general revisal of our Provincial Statutes, as well as for other improvements in our code of positive law. At the distance of thirty years, he was again called by the voice of the legislature to a similar duty; and to him, in a great measure, we owe the valuable collection of our Colonial and Provincial Statutes, which now adorns our libraries. In the intermediate period he served many years in the Continental Congress, during some of its most difficult operations, and there maintained a high reputation for sound judgment, and an inflexible adherence to the best principles of political polity. His advancement to public life was always unsought for by himself; and his retirement from it has always been matter of public regret. To him belongs the glory of the formation of the celebrated Ordinance of 1787, which constitutes the fundamental law of the states northwest of the Ohio. It is a monument of political wisdom, and sententious skilfulness of expression. It

# Co. Litt. 64 b.

“ Sex horas somno, totidem des legibus æquis,

Quatuor orabis, des epulis duas.

Quod superest, ultro sacris largire camænis." † Boswell's Life of Johnson, iii. 398. Teignmouth's Life of Sir William Jones, p. 257.

“ Six hours to law, to soothing slumber seven,

Ten to the world allot, and all to Heaven.” See also, Law of Bailments, pp. 122, 123.

was adopted unanimously by Congress, according to his original draft, with scarcely the alteration of a single word. After his retirement from public life he devoted himself with matchless assiduity to the duties of the bar; and gradually arriving at the first rank, he became the guide, the friend, and the father of the profession in his own county. In the midst of an extensive practice, he found leisure to compile his Digest and Abridgment of American Law, which, in eight large octavo volumes, comprehends a general survey of all our jurisprudence, and attests the depth of his learning, bis unwearied industry, and his independent, but cautious, judgment. It is now some years since he bade farewell to the bar, but not to his favorite studies.* In contemplating his professional character, one is perpetually reminded of the fine portrait of Lord Chief Justice Rolle, drawn by Lord Hale, in his Preface to Rolle's Abridgment of the Law, which has so close a resemblance, that it seems another, and the same. “He argued frequently and pertinently,” says Lord Hale; “bis arguments were fitted to prove and evince, not for ostentation ; plain, yet learned; short, if the nature of the business permitted, yet perspicuous. His words few, but significant and weighty. His skill, judgment, and advice, in points of law and pleading, were sound and excellent. — In short, he was a person of great learning and experience in the common law, profound judgment, singular prudence, great moderation, justice, and integrity.” Mr. Dane has nobly dedicated the whole proceeds of his great work to the establishment of this professorship; and thus has become to our parent University, in the highest sense, the American Viner. I am but too sensible, that here the parallel must stop; and that to pursue it farther would cover him with humiliation, who now addresses you. To the liberal donation of Mr. Viner the world is indebted for the splendid Commentaries of Sir William Blackstone, a work of such singular exactness and perspicacity, of such finished purity and propriety of style, and of such varied research, and learned disquisition, and constitutional accuracy, that, as a text-book, it probably stands unrivalled in the literature of any other language, and is now studied as a classic in America, as well as in England. Perhaps when we are gathered in the dust, some future Blackstone, nursed and reared in this school, may arise ; and by a similar achievement blend his

A supplementary volume (now constituting the ninth) of his Digest and Abridgment, was published by Mr. Dane a short time after this Discourse was delivered, — which contains an abstract of thirty volumes of reports.

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