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standing, monitory memento on this subject, and justifies the following sensible and modest suggestion in the advertisement to Foley's Poor Laws. It has been for some time proposed to reduce all the laws relating to the Poor into one. But I humbly submit it to better judgments, whether it would not be more advisable to retain our old laws, whose sense and meaning have been determined by various decisions, and to go on making supplemental acts, where these are found defective, than to run the hazard of a new one, which perhaps may be liable to as many misconstructions as the former have already gone through.'
Two very recent decisions, one in the court of king's bench, the other in the supreme court of Massachusetts, on the construction of the statute of frauds and perjuries, strongly evince the different effect, on different judges, of doubts strongly expressed and often repeated. At the very time that the court in England unanimously held that all the doubts concerning the decision in Wain vs. Warlters, 5 East 10, were idle and not to be regarded, the court in Massachusetts denied that decision, and anticipated its reversal whenever it should be again brought directly into judgment in the court where it was made.
Mr Greenleaf informs us, in the advertisement prefixed to his book, that the present edition is a very small one, and intended chiefly, as it would seem, to obtain the judgment of the profession as to the utility of the work and the manner of its execution, and their aid, in augmenting the collection, should this attempt be favourably received." Of the utility of the work there can be but one opinion. A manual, which should present at a glance, or furnish the means of readily ascertaining what has been repudiated, denied, doubted or limited in its application, in the voluminous and evergrowing volumes of judicial decisions, has long been a desideratum. It is obviously, however, a work which no single hand can rationally hope to render complete. The aid of the profession is therefore wisely solicited, and we hope will be liberally imparted. For accomplishing so much, Mr Greenleaf is entitled to great credit. In the execution of the work, we find one great fault, which we doubt not will be corrected in a future edition. The point overruled, doubted, or limited in its application, is frequently omitted. This omission occurs seven times in the second page of the book. Thus: Anonymous Sav. 70. pl. 145. Overruled in Doe vs. Redfern, 12
East 113.' A reader who is destitute of Savile's and of East's reports would derive no benefit from this information, and if he possessed both, he ought not to be obliged to examine them to ascertain what Mr G. states to have been overruled. We have noticed some errors in fact, but they are extremely few. In the 67th page, the case of the king vs. Young & Glennie, 2 Anst. 448, is said to be overruled by by that of Iggulden vs. May, 2 NR. 452, and by other cases which have not the slightest bearing upon it. This may be a typographical error. We know of no case that overrules that of the king vs. Young & al. We believe it to be sound law, and confirmed by subsequent decisions. See 3 Anst. 811, 2 Taunt. 254, and several cases in Virginia. Mr G. may have supposed 6 D. and E. 766, impugns it.
We trust Mr Greenleaf will shew us, in a future edition, the differences in the decisions of different states on the same question. This might be done with small labor, and would greatly enhance the value of the work. For instance, that in New York and New Hampshire, the officer who presides at a popular election is not answerable for rejecting the vote of a qualified elector, unless he acts maliciously or corruptly. In Massachusetts the contrary is determined. The departures from the common law of England, in the different states, might also be added without more labor than the addition would repay. Indeed there is in the present edition some information of this kind, but it is not so full as is desirable. "The law,' says lord Hardwicke, does not consist of particular instances only; but in the reason which runs through and governs those cases which have been determined.' single judgment, therefore, should not disincline the court to review their first resolutions; much less should it present a bar to subsequent discussion. Optima legum interpres est res perpetue similiter judicata. The freedom and intrepidity of Mr Bacon Wood, as displayed in Wightwick's reports, are worthy of all commendation. Mr Greenleaf will have rendered to his profession a most eminent service, if by presenting so many examples of corrected error, he shall induce his brethren to examine decisions without fear, and the courts to revise them without reluctance.
ART. V.-Œuvres Oratoires de Mirabeau; précédés d'une notice historique sur sa vie. 2 vols. 8vo. Paris, 1819.
MIRABEAU-ROBESPIERRE-BONAPARTE-These are the three great names of the French revolution. A thousand other actors in this prodigious drama rose in different ways to various heights of power and glory; but these are the three master spirits, who successively set their seals upon the character of three distinct periods; and the union in these leading minds of an utter absence of moral principle with transcendent genius would perhaps go far of itself, independently of any other cause, to account for the series of disasters, which so long frustrated all the attempts of the French people to reform their political institutions. It is fearful to think how much depends in times of trouble on the personal character of individuals. We are fond, for example, of ascribing the success of our own revolution to the excellence of the intellectual and moral habits of our fathers, who achieved it. But what would all their wisdom, and purity, and honesty have availed them, if they had been betrayed by their leaders—if Adams had proved a Mirabeau, and Washington a Bonaparte? If, as we may venture to presume, they would have persevered and finally effected their deliverance, the revolution, under such circumstances, must have assumed a character like that of France, and degenerated into a weary and wasting struggle, instead of being, as it was, compared with any similar event of equal magnitude, a mere holiday diversion.
The three personages, whom we have mentioned, resembled each other in nothing but the ascendency of their characters and the extent of their influence on the fortunes of their country. The reputation of Robespierre for talent is, however, more equivocal than that of the others; although it seems impossible to account for his ability to strike terror, during two or three years in succession, into the hearts of a great nation, without supposing an extraordinary degree of mental energy. But the diabolical and unexampled excess of mere malignity, that appeared in his character, has withdrawn the public attention from the contemplation of his talents; and he is only recollected as the most remorseless of tyrants. There is, after all, something unnatural and, as it were, mysterious in this personage. He exhibited a singular simplicity and unexceptionable correctness in his private habits; and seems to New Series, No. 11. 10
have felt no temptation to abuse power for the purpose of accumulating wealth or indulging in sensual pleasure. Liberty was the watch-word of the day; but with him virtue was more especially an habitual theme of discourse; and he goes from his daily labor of assassination to make a voluntary and solemn acknowledgment of the existence of God. His delicate taste and minute attention to his person were also strongly at variance with his political conduct; and there is something startling in the idea of a murderer in a nicely powdered head, and a neckcloth of the finest cambric. These frightful inconsistences almost excite the idea of a good man driven on, like Wieland in the novel, by a sort of fatality or insanity to the commission of continual crimes; and the supposition of a wandering intellect would seem at first thought the most reasonable way of accounting for proceedings more extravagant and incongruous, if possible, than cruel.-With the other two of these characters, the splendor of genius has thrown its dazzling brilliancy over the daring and unprincipled ambition, which accompanied it, as it has done with many preceding conquerors and statesmen of ancient and modern times. Mirabeau and Bonaparte, though hardly possessing higher claims to the approbation of the wise and good, than Robespierre, not having abandoned, like him, all regard for common humanity, and having fired the imaginations of men in a much greater degree, by astonishing exhibitions of power and vast successes, are more frequently thought of, and will probably be finally remembered as the most illustrious persons of their times, rather than as great criminals. They will be ranked in history with the Alexanders, the Cæsars, and the Cromwells; while Robespierre, in the singular blackness and incomprehensible inconsistency of his conduct, must be contented with a station far below even the Catilines; or rather has no parallel whatever, and stands apart, a terrible exception from all recorded categories of the human species.
These three were all orators; and each in a different way. Robespierre, as he was probably inferior to the others in talent, was also inferior to them in eloquence. His manner of speaking appears to have resembled that of Cromwell, and was marked with obscurity and painful effort. To judge from his reported speeches, his reach of mind was extensive, and he generally took a large view of the subject under discussion; but his ideas are not expressed with precision or with elegance;
and make little or no impression on the imagination or the judgment. A bewildering cloud seems to brood over his intellect, as may well be imagined with one, whose aim, in most of his orations, was to establish a connexion between assassination and virtue. Bonaparte, on the other hand, was distinguished for a very different sort of eloquence, if the term may be applied without impropriety to his written addresses to the army. His mind was inflamed to enthusiasm in early life by a contemplation of the great characters of antiquity, and his style, like his conduct, was imitated from theirs. It is impossible not to recognize in the productions alluded to an echo of such speeches as those of Hannibal in Livy, and Marius in Sallust. This bold and brilliant manner was entirely suitable to the audience, for which the addresses were intended; and some of the happiest specimens of it may perhaps stand the test of exact criticism, and be admitted as examples of real eloquence. In general, however, their author's ambitious spirit led him, in writing as in action, into caricature; and he often oversteps the narrow boundary, that divides the sublime from the ridiculous. But eloquence, whether written or spoken, was with Bonaparte only a secondary matter. Mirabeau, with a mental energy probably at least equal, if not superior, was exclusively an orator; and he seems to have possessed all the requisites of eloquence in as high perfection as any orator, that ever distinguished himself, either in ancient or modern times. The shortness of his career, and the peculiar character of the period, prevented him from developing his powers to their full extent, or embodying them in such productions, as will give him a permanent rank with the most celebrated speakers. But, notwithstanding the unfavorable circumstances, under which he presented himself, he exercised an astonishing mastery over the spirits of a most enlightened audience; and acquired in the short space of two years the reputation, which has not yet been wrested from him, of the most powerful political orator, that France ever produced. We venture to presume, that an article upon so distinguished a personage, including one or two specimens of his manner, will not be uninteresting to our readers; and avail ourselves of the opportunity to offer it, afforded by the publication of this collection, which is not, however, very complete or very judiciously executed. We shall commence with some observations of a more general character, which are naturally suggested by the subject.