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in common with the thousands who throng his steps wherever he passes, that we are permitted to offer this tribute of a gratitude and veneration, which cannot be misinterpreted, to one, who suffered with our fathers for our sake; but we rejoice yet more for the moral effect it cannot fail to produce on us, both as individuals and as a people. For it is no common spectacle, which is now placed before each of us for our instruction. We are permitted to see one, who, by the mere force of principle, by plain and resolved integrity, has passed with perfect consistency, through more remarkable extremes of fortune, than any man now alive, or perhaps, any man on record. We are permitted to see one who has borne a leading and controlling part in two hemispheres, and in the two most important revolutions the world has yet seen, and has come forth from both of them without the touch of dishonor. We are permitted to see that man, who first put in jeopardy his rank and fortune at home, in order to serve as a volunteer in the cause of Free Institutions in America, and afterwards hazarded his life at the bar of the National Assembly, to arrest the same cause, when it was tending to excess and violence. We are permitted to see the man, who, after three years of unbroken political triumph, stood in the midst of half a million of his countrymen, comprehending whatever was great, wise and powerful in the nation, with the oriflamme of the monarchy at his feet, and the confidence of all France following his words, as he swore on their behalf to a free constitution; and yet remained undazzled and unseduced by his vast, his irresistible popularity. We are permitted to see the man, who, for the sake of the same principles to which he had thus sworn, and in less than three years afterwards, was condemned to such obscure sufferings, that his very existence became doubtful to the world, and the place of his confinement was effectually hidden from the inquiries of his friends, who sent emissaries over half Europe to discover it; and yet remained unshaken and undismayed, constantly refusing all appearance of compromise with his persecutors and oppressors. We are, in short, permitted to see a man, who has professed, amidst glory and suffering, in triumph and in disgrace, the same principles of political freedom on both sides of the Atlantic; who has maintained the same tone, the same air, the same open confidence, amidst
the ruins of the Bastille, in the Champ de Mars, under the despotism of Bonaparte, and in the dungeons of Olmütz.
We rejoice, too, no less in the effect which this visit of General Lafayette is producing upon us as a nation. It is doing much to unite us. It has brought those together, who have been separated by long lives of political animosity. It helps to break down the great boundaries and landmarks of party. It makes a holiday of kind and generous feelings in the hearts of the multitudes that throng his way, as he moves in triumphal procession from city to city. It turns this whole people from the bustle and divisions of our wearisome elections, the contests of the senate house, and the troubles and bitterness of our manifold political dissentions; and instead of all this, carries us back to that great period in our history, about which opinions have long been tranquil and settled. It offers to us, as it were, with the very costume and air appropriate to the times, one of the great actors, from this most solemn passage in our national destinies; and thus enables us to transmit yet one generation further onward, a sensible impression of the times of our fathers; since we are not only permitted to witness ourselves one of their foremost leaders and champions, but can show him to our children, and thus leave in their young hearts an impression, which will grow old there with their deepest and purest feelings. It brings, in fact, our revolution nearer to us, with all the highminded patriotism and selfdenying virtues of our forefathers; and therefore naturally turns our thoughts more towards our posterity, and makes us more anxious to do for them what we are so sensibly reminded was done with such perilous sacrifices for us.
We may be allowed, too, to add, that we rejoice in General Lafayette's visit, on his own account. He enjoys a singular distinction; for it is a strange thing in the providence of God, one that never happened before, and will, probably, never happen again, that an individual from a remote quarter of the world, having assisted to lay the foundation of a great nation, should be permitted thus to visit the posterity of those he served, and witness on a scale so vast, the work of his own sacrifices; the result of grand principles in government, for which he contended before their practical effect had been tried; the growth and maturity of institutions,
which he assisted to establish, when their operation could be calculated only by the widest and most clear sighted circumspection. We rejoice in it, for it is, we doubt not, the most gratifying and appropriate reward, that could be offered to a spirit like his. In the beautiful phrase which Tacitus has applied to Germanicus, fruitur fama; for he must be aware, that the ocean which rolls between us and Europe, operates like the grave on all feelings of passion and party, and that the voice of gratitude and admiration, which now rises to greet him, from every city, every village, and every heart, of this wide land, is as pure and sincere as the voice of posterity.
ART. VII.-Reports of Cases argued and determined in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. By OCTAVIUS PICKERING, Counsellor at Law. Vol. 1; Containing the Cases from September Term, 1822, in Berkshire, to October Term, 1823, in Middlesex. Boston, Wells & Lilly. pp. 580.
It is not our province to keep our readers thoroughly instructed in the laws, and make our review a substitute for a law journal. In this country the law is the only sovereign whose supremacy is acknowledged; and as in monarchies and empires reports of the health of the king or emperor are often made to the public, as being a matter in which all his subjects are interested, so we owe it to the public to give occasional notices of any material circumstances affecting the state and condition of this sovereign of ours. Some of our readers may possibly be of opinion, that we perform this part of our duty with an over scrupulous fidelity, and, in this legal dispensation, impose upon ourselves, and upon them, some supererogatory labors. If it be so, and we lose sight of our proper objects by turning too often in pursuit of the law, it will be conceded to us, as some excuse, that we err on the safer side, for of all subjects that can occupy the community, none is more important, and of a more deep and lasting interest, than the character and state of our laws; since no cause so intimately affects the dignity, prosperity, morals, and hap
piness of the community, as the spirit and administration of those rules upon which the enjoyment of life, liberty, rights, and property, depend. But we do not now propose to occupy our readers with the subject of codification, nor to go into any elaborate disquisition, but merely to give a very brief notice of the volume of which the title is prefixed to this article; to which we are induced, in a great measure, by the circumstance, that it is the first published by the present reporter of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts.
Before speaking of our particular subject, we will, however, by way of further apology, premise a word respecting a complaint repeated very frequently of late in regard to law books. As long ago as the time of Solomon, it seems that there was no end of making many books; and, some two thousand years since, the Greeks found much study to be a weariness,' as appears by their maxim that a great book is a great evil, to the reader, they meant, no doubt,-and to one who must both purchase and read, the evil is doubled; and of this sort of evils, a law book is certainly not among the least. The men of the law seem to have suffered under more than their just share of this general and ancient calamity, if we may believe their lamentations over the ratio of their number of books, to that of their clients. On this ground we hear loud calls from many quarters for codes and abridgments. Men in the profession wish that books may, at some age or other, become obsolete; or at least that some device may be hit upon to bring this overgrown science within reasonable compass; and men out of the profession, though not at all surprised that every one is not, and cannot be, an adept in theology, physic, natural philosophy, botany, &c. yet seem to be surprised that the law cannot be so abridged, simplified, and elucidated, that every boy leaving the public schools should be a good practising attorney; and that a learned, deep read counsellor at law, should not become a rare and useless curiosity.
We will not, however, enlarge upon these interesting subjects in this place, but remark merely that all which has been said upon them, by way of complaints and projects, shows no ground of objection to the publishing of reports. These exhibit an accurate and authentic history of the administration of the laws, of which it is of vital importance to the
well being of the community, that the public should have ample means to inform themselves. A barrister, who through the medium of the reports, addresses his arguments to the whole profession, both of the present and future times, feels a much stronger motive to make himself completely master of his subject, than if the knowledge of the case which he argues were limited to the court before which it is pending, and the auditors present. A judge, who knows that his decisions, with their reasons, will be recorded and made public, and compared with each other, and tested by those of other judges and courts of former and aftertimes, and yet is ready to throw out hasty conceptions and first impressions, in crude and loose propositions, must be indifferent to his own reputation, and public opinion, as well as regardless of right and wrong, and of his obligations to parties and the public. The practice of reporting decisions, with their grounds and reasons, is indeed an insuperable barrier to the corruption of judges; and what is of greater importance, (for in this country we are at an immeasurable distance from any fear of direct corruption,) it is the strongest possible guard against negligent and inconsiderate decrees. The motives, on the part of the court, to give able opinions, well fortified by reasons and authorities, are so much strengthened and enforced by the practice of reporting, that we may safely say that the judge, who, notwithstanding these motives, ventures to dispose of important and difficult questions, in a summary and superficial manner, must do so under the conviction that he is totally incompetent to an elaborate investigation, or from some constitutional or habitual disqualification for his place, which amounts to a moral necessity of deciding without weighing.
The publication of reports, again, affords the only means of informing the community of the laws by which their conduct is to be governed, and their rights to be determined, since the combined wisdom, talents, and experience of the country, if they could be brought to act in concert, and with the greatest advantages, upon the subject, could not frame a body of laws, which would anticipate and provide for all cases, and would not give rise to innumerable questions of interpretation; and the multitude of contracts, which men are continually making, and which a good system of legislation takes care to leave them free to make, is incessantly giving rise to questions of